MILWAUKEE — Leaders with Bell Ambulance say reckless and distracted drivers are getting in the way of first responders and they're now asking drivers on Milwaukee roads to be more aware.
TMJ4's Ryan Jenkins went for a ride-along with two of the company's leaders, Adam Kuhs and Russell Johnston.
"It's a great career and you're out there helping someone every day," said Kuhs, Deputy Director of Operations. He described his job as never being dull. He and Johnston are part of a team that responds to emergencies in the City of Milwaukee daily.
"At the end of the day vehicles can be replaced. People can not," said Kuhs when the topic of recent crashes came up during the ride.
As reckless and distracted drivers continue to plague Milwaukee streets, first responders like EMTs and Paramedics behind the wheel of Bell ambulances are noticing an impact.
According to the company, there were 19 crashes involving its fleet in 2021 and there have already been another 4 crashes in 2022.
Of those 23 crashes, most were relatively minor. Some resulted in broken mirrors and dents on vehicles. However, at least two were more serious.
In December 2021, a Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) bus slammed into a Bell Ambulance. The ambulance was parked on the side of the road with its emergency lights flashing. The vehicle flipped onto its side and two EMTs were hurt, one critically.
Then, in February 2022, another ambulance collided with a car as it drove through 20th and Layton with lights and sirens on. Two EMTs were taken to the hospital in that crash.
"For the most part everyone has done well and has started to recover, and is doing good in their recoveries," said Kuhs.
Still, these first responders say the incidents are tough to cope with.
"It's very difficult to handle when you evaluate an incident and realize there's nothing you could've done to change the outcome. You needed to be where you were at that time," said Kuhs.
"Yeah, you can do everything right and still something bad can happen," said Johnston, a client Services coordinator.
Now, these emergency responders are asking for your help.
"When we're running lights and sirens, we are asking for the public's help," said Johnston.
They both ask for you to slow down, move over and give them space when you see them out and about.
"Everyone wants to go home at night and nobody ever wants to be involved in an accident where there is any kind of injury, let alone one that could alter somebody's life," said Kuhs.