911 – What’s your Emergency?
Incident response time has been a frequent item of concern among Cove residents since the scope of the Cecil Ashburn corridor project changed to include a full closure of the mountainous route for the next 10-14 months in 2019.
Multiple first responders representing multiple agencies were present at our initial meeting with the City in September, with regards to Cecil Ashburn, and have worked hard to put plans in place for 2019. Local police and fire departments have cooperative agreements and will have extra officers and vehicles stationed in the Cove, giving us an even higher level of emergency service than we currently experience.
HEMSI’s statement is below and, based on multiple discussions during the Fall, we feel very confident in all of our emergency providers’ plans for the Cove in 2019.
Over the past few months, HEMSI has been continuously coordinating with the City of Huntsville to prepare for the closure of Cecil Ashburn Drive. Beginning with infrastructure, the city has been working to install Opticom devices on every intersection between Hwy 431/Sutton Road and Governors Drive/Madison Street. HEMSI has placed two of its Opticom enabled ambulances (the trucks for our one 24-hour unit) at our station in the Big Cove area. Huntsville Fire and Rescue has also installed Opticom on any of their apparatus in the area. If you are not familiar, Opticom uses GPS along with secure radio communications to gain priority for emergency vehicles at intersections. The result is safer, more efficient traffic flow for emergency vehicles during incident responses. Our crewmembers can attest that this makes a substantial difference during periods of high congestion.
HEMSI has also updated its deployment model to ensure that the unit in the Big Cove area is not utilized to cover any other area in the county unless absolutely necessary. Previously it would assist us in filling gaps in our coverage elsewhere, but we want to minimize the potential for our unit to be blocked in by traffic on 431 and it being unable to turn around to respond to an emergency. During times of low demand on our system, we plan to send a second unit to perform a standby in the area.