With hundreds of calls a day, it’s a race against the clock for the men and women of the Nashville Fire Department to save lives.
“We’re highly trained to know what to do when we get there, it’s just getting there,” said Commander Scott Lively, Nashville Fire Department Chief Training Officer.
A growing population means growing traffic.
Commander Lively said navigating the congestion is now the hardest part of the job.
“They’re all drivers, they’re all trying to learn the roads,” said Commander Lively. “The variable that we don’t know is what the driver is going to do in front of us. “
But drivers can make all the difference.
The department’s ‘Make It Right’ campaign encourages those behind the wheel to move to the right when they see the flashing lights.
“We’re all trying to get to work, all delayed, let people over, and let us pass on the left side,” said Commander Lively.
To give News 2 a sense of the stress, first responders put our crews to the test.
Our first task – trying to maneuver an ambulance in drive and reverse around an obstacle course.
With Captain Alfred Baltz as our instructor, we navigate cones representing parked cars, narrowing streets, similar to Nashville’s traffic.
It’s an exercise without the stress that EMT’s experience, like Josh Grisham.
“Just have to be careful,” said Grisham. “Don’t want to get into an accident, don’t want to hurt someone else because then we have a whole new incident to go to.”
Our second task – completing the same course behind the wheel of one of the department’s fire trucks.
The sheer size proved difficult to maneuver.
After six cones down, we reached the finish line.
Commander Lively said everyone within the department who can respond with lights and sirens has been through the course.
The goal is to teach first responders how to anticipate and react to what others drivers will do.