September 16, 2019 – The Augusta Fire Department in Georgia will soon have emergency response vehicles equipped with the EMTRAC signal-priority system. Vehicles equipped with the EMTRAC system are able to automatically “preempt” the intersection—meaning only the response vehicle’s signal is green while all other directions at the intersection are red. The technology enables response personnel to arrive at call locations more quickly and with less chance for accidents.
Neighboring Columbia County, which is also EMTRAC equipped, utilizes the system for the fire department and Gold Cross EMS. Installation of EMTRAC in Richmond County now makes it possible for equipped vehicles to travel greater distances more quickly and safely—particularly when transporting patients to the many hospital locations in the Augusta area.
One key benefit of the EMTRAC system is that it may be utilized by multiple agencies, such as transit agencies. For cities equipped with both emergency and transit vehicles, the emergency vehicles are granted a higher priority response to requests for green signals. Equipped buses, on the other hand, are granted a lower priority signal. For example, green lights may be extended to allow approaching buses to cross the intersection, or red light phases may be shortened to reduce the delay for a given direction.
WJBF News Channel 6 in Augusta reported this story along with a comment from Augusta Fire Department Chief Christopher James.
“In the business that we’re in, seconds matter.” said James. “Seconds matter as far as how fast the fire spreads. Seconds matter when a citizen can’t breath. Seconds matter, so anything that will assist us in getting to our citizens quicker is a good thing for Augusta.”