News

Fire chief releases recording of response in heavy traffic to Sept. 22 motorcycle fatality

Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman has released an audio recording of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District's response to a Sept. 22 collision on U.S. 101 in East Palo Alto that left a motorcyclist dead.

Chief Schapelhouman said the incident was an example of how emergency crews are delayed by heavy traffic, particularly during commute hours.

"My goal is to show and tell the public what we are up against daily in terms of traffic congestion," he said in a statement, "and how it challenges and slows our ability to quickly respond to emergencies where people's well-being, their property and lives hang in the balance. We can and will be paying more attention to these problems."

The crash was reported at 5:46 p.m. on southbound 101 just north of Embarcadero Road. Firefighters arrived on the scene at 5:56 p.m., 10 minutes after receiving the call, Chief Schapelhouman said. The Menlo Park district's goal is to arrive on the scene within seven minutes.

The California Highway Patrol said the motorcyclist's death was reported to dispatchers just before 6 p.m.

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In the recording, firefighters can be heard redirecting their colleagues to surface streets around freeway congestion so as to reach the scene, and how to proceed in getting the rider to Stanford Hospital. The rider was reported as being down and not breathing. At one point, he was receiving CPR, the chief said.

While acknowledging that in this incident, an earlier arrival might not have saved the motorcyclist's life, it could make a difference in another incident, he said. "I'm proud of how creative our field commanders and personnel are when it comes to trying to save a life," the chief said. "Our job is often a race against time. We can't always prevent the loss of a life, but we need to do everything in our power to speak up about what can be done to improve our response times."

The San Mateo County coroner's office identified the motorcyclist as Ronald Barbaran Garcia, 27, of Union City.

Click here to listen to the recording.

Earlier story: Fire chief: Response to crash delayed by traffic. (Sept. 30, 2015)

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Fire chief releases recording of response in heavy traffic to Sept. 22 motorcycle fatality

Uploaded: Sat, Oct 10, 2015, 9:54 am
Updated: Mon, Oct 12, 2015, 11:26 am

Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman has released an audio recording of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District's response to a Sept. 22 collision on U.S. 101 in East Palo Alto that left a motorcyclist dead.

Chief Schapelhouman said the incident was an example of how emergency crews are delayed by heavy traffic, particularly during commute hours.

"My goal is to show and tell the public what we are up against daily in terms of traffic congestion," he said in a statement, "and how it challenges and slows our ability to quickly respond to emergencies where people's well-being, their property and lives hang in the balance. We can and will be paying more attention to these problems."

The crash was reported at 5:46 p.m. on southbound 101 just north of Embarcadero Road. Firefighters arrived on the scene at 5:56 p.m., 10 minutes after receiving the call, Chief Schapelhouman said. The Menlo Park district's goal is to arrive on the scene within seven minutes.

The California Highway Patrol said the motorcyclist's death was reported to dispatchers just before 6 p.m.

In the recording, firefighters can be heard redirecting their colleagues to surface streets around freeway congestion so as to reach the scene, and how to proceed in getting the rider to Stanford Hospital. The rider was reported as being down and not breathing. At one point, he was receiving CPR, the chief said.

While acknowledging that in this incident, an earlier arrival might not have saved the motorcyclist's life, it could make a difference in another incident, he said. "I'm proud of how creative our field commanders and personnel are when it comes to trying to save a life," the chief said. "Our job is often a race against time. We can't always prevent the loss of a life, but we need to do everything in our power to speak up about what can be done to improve our response times."

The San Mateo County coroner's office identified the motorcyclist as Ronald Barbaran Garcia, 27, of Union City.

Click here to listen to the recording.

Earlier story: Fire chief: Response to crash delayed by traffic. (Sept. 30, 2015)

Comments

Robert D.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 12, 2015 at 4:28 pm
Robert D., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 12, 2015 at 4:28 pm
2 people like this

Well Done by MPFD. Once they found the rider and declared him 10-55 (dead) it was apparent to me that any response would not have resolved the death - it was a matter of the injuries.


What Now?
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 12, 2015 at 6:00 pm
What Now?, Menlo Park: other
on Oct 12, 2015 at 6:00 pm
Like this comment

Interesting video. I think anyone who drives around these parts in the morning or afternoon appreciates the challenges. Too many cars.

I consider the people who come to me with a problem more valuable when they also suggest a solution. That's what's missing for me.

Another station near the bridge?
Motorcycles to cut through traffic?
Removal of center medians in congested areas, designating the space for fire trucks?

Those are a few possibilities. Menlo Park can't be the first city to deal with this issue. What are the best practices? How did the other places solve this problem??


Menlo Voter
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 12, 2015 at 6:22 pm
Menlo Voter, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 12, 2015 at 6:22 pm
Like this comment

Motorcycles seem the best response to this problem. Paramedics on bikes can get to someone quickly by cutting through traffic. They can stabilize a victim or at the least start working on them long before a fire engine or ambulance can arrive. Valuable minutes in these situations.

It reminds me of when they first started introducing Paramedics back in the day so that highly trained individuals could get to victims earlier than they could back then. Back then ambulance attendants had minimal training beyond loading someone up and running code 3 to an ER.

It was a huge leap forward back then. Now, virtually every ambulance and fire apparatus has a Paramedic on board. Not to mention radio communication to a medical doctor. It's time for more forward thinking. Paramedics on motorcycles is it. Traffic is not going to improve.


SteveC
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 12, 2015 at 6:27 pm
SteveC, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Oct 12, 2015 at 6:27 pm
Like this comment

The video was well done and demonstrates the problems encountered by emergency vehicles. In a previous story/comment, motorcycles for para-medics were discussed. A Fire Commission Director, Peter Carpenter said he would personally donate the cost of one. Is this being worked on? Certainly worth looking into.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 12, 2015 at 7:46 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Oct 12, 2015 at 7:46 pm
2 people like this

"Menlo Park can't be the first city to deal with this issue. What are the best practices?"

The best practice would be to restore Willow Road to a configuration that permitted vehicles to move to the side to allow passage of emergency vehicles. The current configuration, reduced from the former 4 lane configuration, has bulb outs and parking that preclude vehicles from moving aside. Simply stupid.


simple
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 12, 2015 at 8:23 pm
simple, Menlo Park: other
on Oct 12, 2015 at 8:23 pm
6 people like this

Providing four vehicle lanes for traffic won't allow emergency vehicles to move any faster during rush hour. The city should remove those bulb outs and stripe Willow (between Middlefield and 101) with generous buffered bike lanes. so that emergency vehicles have unfettered access.


Robert D.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 13, 2015 at 2:55 pm
Robert D., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2015 at 2:55 pm
Like this comment

Two Things
1. Per Steve C - Peter - did you say you would donate one - if so, when?
2. Do those opposed to lane splitting agree that lane splitting can be useful in an emergency. It really does no good if they chant yes, but say no....
Looking forward to the solution and it sounds like we are close


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 13, 2015 at 3:35 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2015 at 3:35 pm
2 people like this

Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 25, 2015 at 10:29 am
Peter Carpenter is a registered user.
P.S. If MPFPD decides to implement a Motor Medic program I will personally donate the first motorcycle.


Candice B.
Atherton: other
on Oct 13, 2015 at 3:50 pm
Candice B., Atherton: other
on Oct 13, 2015 at 3:50 pm
4 people like this

Why is Chief Schapelhouman always speaking for the Fire Board, instead of the Virginia Kiraly who is the Board's President? [part removed.]


really?
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 13, 2015 at 4:59 pm
really?, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2015 at 4:59 pm
2 people like this

Motor Medic seconded. I would hope the budget increase in November's ballet will more than pay for it.....


Menlo Voter
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 13, 2015 at 6:46 pm
Menlo Voter, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2015 at 6:46 pm
Like this comment

Candice:

the Chief doesn't speak for the board, he speaks for the Fire Department. [part removed.]


Not so fast
Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Oct 13, 2015 at 6:57 pm
Not so fast, Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Oct 13, 2015 at 6:57 pm
5 people like this

[post removed. refers to remark that was removed.]


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 14, 2015 at 11:52 am
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2015 at 11:52 am
Like this comment

Fire District Board Policy:

"5.10 Board and District Public Communication
The Fire Chief, or his designee, is the spokesperson for the District when dealing with the media."


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