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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- When lives are on the line, seconds count.
But as WDRB's Tamara Evans finds in this special assignment report, something is blocking emergency responders from acting as quickly as possible.
When you call for help, and need an ambulance, you hope for a fast response.
How important is seconds when you're talking about responding and getting to a scene and picking someone up and getting them to the hospital?
"It's extremely important, especially when you're dealing with cardiovascular disease, respiratory emergencies, or trauma," said Mike Will, of Louisville Metro EMS. "Time is of the essence."
Time that is sometimes slowed down by other drivers.
"Some days are really good," Major Jenny Cravens said. "Some days everybody moves. But some days, nobody gets out of your way -- ever."
With a camera on one ambulance facing traffic, one facing the driver, and one in the flycar behind it, WDRB News tagged along for a couple of hours to see what EMS crews see when responding to emergencies.
It's the intersections first responders have to really look out for.
When WDRB News rode along with EMS personnel, we discovered that some drivers either stopped directly in the path of the emergency vehicle or continued driving through the intersection where the ambulance was trying to cross. In one case, a car pulled directly into the path of an ambulance.
"And when he started to stop, he was in the middle of the intersection, so if she was going straight, he was going to be right in her path," says Major Jenny Cravens.
Which would have caused a delay, or even an accident.
Rachel Kline was the paramedic driving when this happened on camera.
"It happens often," Kline said. "Almost every time that we're making a run that somebody gets in our way."
And it happened again when the ambulance was exiting the Interstate. In the video we obtained, you can see one car moves to the side of the road, but another stops for the ambulance, directly in the middle of the lane!
"See now. This car could move," Kline said.
And in some cases...the cars on the other side of the road, keep moving when an ambulance is coming their way. The problem is, sometimes crews have to go into oncoming traffic to get around stopped cars.
"If we had to turn back there, we would have to turn across oncoming traffic to get onto a sidestreet, so they should stop because they don't know where we're going," Kline said.
But, sometimes, they don't stop at all, leading to delays, or even worse.
EMS officials say during the drive, one of the most dangerous places to be is right there in the back of the ambulance.
"There's no restraint system that's built for that provider in the back of an ambulance, so if they're in a wreck, it's basically like them being a pinball and just bouncing around," Will said. "It's a very, very dangerous place for a paramedic or EMT to be."
And, the accidents do happen.
On April 4th at Bardstown Road and Hurstbourne Parkway, an ambulance and truck were involved in a crash.
A traffic report shows the truck failed to yield to the ambulance at the intersection, causing the crash.
The EMT's became the patients and, along with the driver of the truck, were taken to the hospital.
Just 10 days later, an ambulance was destroyed when a speeding car ran a red light at 7th and Chestnut. The impact was so hard, it flipped the ambulance, sending four people to the hospital.
The ambulance was on duty, but was not on a run at the time.
EMS officials say this is a prime example of people not paying attention.
"When our staff looked at the aftermath of this ambulance, our crew was extremely lucky," Will said.
Rachel Kline says that's something they know can come with the job.
"There's always the added risk, but you can't think about that when you have to do the job," Kline said.
They hope drivers will cut out distractions on the road so they can hear if an ambulance is coming.
"A lot of times, people aren't paying attention," Kline said. "They're talking on their phones or they have their stereos turned up and they don't hear us."
Because, when every second is critical, it's essential that drivers stop and move out of their way.
"We need to be there to potentially save someone's loved one, and we can't get there because somebody won't get out of our way," Kline said. "You never know when it is your loved one that we're going on."