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Published June 04, 2010, 06:07 PM

Altru Ambulances Stopping At Some GF Red Lights

Altru Ambulances have temporarily lost the ability to change some traffic lights in Grand Forks. The issue stems from updated equipment Grand Forks recently installed that switches stop lights to green as emergency vehicles respond to calls.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

Emergency Vehicles shorten response times by sending a signal to change traffic lights in front of them to green. But Altru Ambulance drivers started to notice recently that it wasn't working at some intersections.

Art Culver / Altru Ambulance Supervisor : "It does decrease our response times. We have to slow down and stop at that red light and make sure they see us with our lights flashing and then creep through the intersection. "

Currently there are 26 traffic light controled intersections where ambulances cannot control the the light. This is where the city of Grand Forks recently updated the signals with a GPS system. They city was hoping to keep the old system working as well but found out mid April that it wouldn't be possible.

Jane Williams/Grand Forks Traffic Engineer: "Shortly after that we notified Altru to let them know. We were going to be changing it out. Some of them, not all of them. "

Altru has ordered the new equipment for their ambulances but have not yet received it. Altru Ambulance supervisor Art Culver says they could have used more time for the switch.

Art Culver: "I really didn't get to why we didn't get involve in this a little sooner. "

Jane Williams: "Before those were all changed out we sent the a letter to let them know. They had called us. I had sent them information on who to contact and where to buy the equipment and everything. So that did happen way before that happened."

Culver is hoping the new equipment arrives soon. In the mean time Altru Ambulance and the city are asking drivers to be extra cautious when they hear an ambulance siren near an intersection.

Art Culver: "The public is accustomed that when an emergency vehicle is coming the light will turn green for us, red for them. Now what they are noticing is the lights are not changing."

All of the Grand Forks fire trucks have been equiped with the new GPS signal system. Over the next few years they city hopes to have the new system at all intersections.

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