EUREKA, MO – The Eureka Fire Protection District is testing technology designed to keep drivers and emergency responders safe. Division Chief Scott Barthelmass said his department sees dangerous driving nearly every time they respond to a call.
“A vehicle approaching at 60-70 miles per hour when there’s an emergency ahead is dangerous,” he said. “We park engines farther back to be blockers just because of the fact we’re trying to protect our personnel who are helping somebody whose life may already be at risk.”
That’s one reason the Eureka Fire Protection District is testing MakeWay.
It’s a device that’s been installed on emergency vehicles and is automatically activated when the emergency vehicle’s lights and sirens are activated. The activation triggers a verbal warning to nearby drivers through their phone before it’s too late for them to slow down and move over.
“There are hundreds of emergency responders who are killed on our roadways throughout the nation,” said MakeWay Safety President and CEO Bill Bader. “This is a nationwide problem.”
He said MakeWay is currently integrated with Google’s Waze app and is trying to convince phone carriers and automakers to integrate MakeWay with all their phones and vehicles. Bader said the device has already been successfully tested on a GM vehicle.
He credits the Eureka and Kirkwood Fire Departments and MoDOT for testing the device on their vehicles and hopes someday it will become standard equipment across the country.
“It really is going to save people,” said Barthelmass. “It’s going to save our personnel from getting killed and it’s going to save the motoring public.”