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)