Myrtle Beach fire, EMS to control traffic lights during emergencies

Grand Strand
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The Myrtle Beach Fire Department has a new system it hopes will improve emergency response times and keep first responders safe.

The city is installing traffic preemption technology at 25 of the busiest intersections in Myrtle Beach, which allows fire and EMS vehicles to change a traffic light from red to green.

“What happens is when our engines and trucks approach the intersection, it’ll change the light in our favor so we can get to where we’re going quicker and safer so we don’t have to worry about traffic so much,” Captain Jonathan Evans with the Myrtle Beach Fire Department said.

The new system will be installed on Kings Highway from Farrow Parkway to 82nd Avenue North, most of Robert Grissom Parkway and Oak Street at Mr. Joe White Avenue.

The preemption system costs $60,000 a year, which was included in this year’s city budget.

Myrtle Beach fire officials say the technology will help them respond to calls faster.

“Our big thing is response time, so we want to get to where we’re going as quickly and safely as possible, so that comes to us coming out of the door here, getting our gear on, getting out of the station with the dispatching, but also getting on route to the incident wherever we’re going,” Capt. Evans said.

“Every second counts when it comes to these emergency situations so if we can cut that time down when we’re traveling, then that’s a great benefit to all of us.”

Once emergency crews have gone through the light, the system will immediately change back to its regular traffic cycle. The department says its ultimate goal is to have these installed throughout the city.

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