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.

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

2 people like this
Posted by Robert D.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 12, 2015 at 4:28 pm

Robert D. is a registered user.

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.


Like this comment
Posted by What Now?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 12, 2015 at 6:00 pm

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??


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 12, 2015 at 6:22 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

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.


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Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 12, 2015 at 6:27 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

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.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 12, 2015 at 7:46 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"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.


4 people like this
Posted by simple
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 12, 2015 at 8:23 pm

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.


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Posted by Robert D.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 13, 2015 at 2:55 pm

Robert D. is a registered user.

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


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 13, 2015 at 3:35 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

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.


4 people like this
Posted by Candice B.
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 13, 2015 at 3:50 pm

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


2 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 13, 2015 at 4:59 pm

really? is a registered user.

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


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 13, 2015 at 6:46 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Candice:

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


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

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


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 14, 2015 at 11:52 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

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."


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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