Fire Department Central Station San J ose were caught in a traffic congestion on Second Avenue. According to Manuel Perez, head of that unit, that scenario is something to encounter daily every time they go to meet an emergency, so you have to be looking for alternate routes. | GUSTAVO FAULTS.
From inside the a fire truck caught in a traffic congestion on Avenida Segunda. According to Manuel Perez, head of that San Jose Central Station, the scenario is something they encounter daily every time they roll an emergency. Photo by Gustavo Fallas, for the La Nacion, on a ride along.

(QCOSTARICA) The traffic congestion of the Greater Metropolitan Area of San Jose (GAM) not only overwhelms drivers headed to and from work and home, but also robs vital minutes from an emergency response.

Workers of the Cruz Roja (Red Cross) and Bomberos (Fire Department) face the same traffic congestion, taking longer to reach an emergency.

According to words of the responders, a few years ago they would reach an emergency under 5 minutes, today it can take up to 10 minutes.

“We have sectors where its complicated, for example, from the Central Fire Station in San Jose to the Melico Salazar (about 400 metres) it can take almost 10 minutes,” said Luis Chaves, head of the Bomberos.

According to Manuel Perez, head of the Central Fire Station in San Jose, arriving after 10 minutes is a long time, because in that period of time there are places where it costs more to extinguish in case of fire.

Many of the structures in the downtown area are made of wood and have old and poor electrical installations, where every minute counts.

At the Cruz Roja, the situation is similar. Deputy director Jim Batres told La Nacion, it can take up to nine minutes from the San Jose station to Los Yoses (less than a kilometre away); it used take less than five only a few years ago.

Both the Bomberos and Cruz Roja workers say the same, every day they have to fight traffic congestion and response times get longer.

Sirens and flashing lights don’t seem to matter to many drivers who will not mover out the way. “There are cases were drivers that give way, others take advantage of the sirens,” said Batres.

“Most people show a good attitude; however, there is a group of drivers who are irresponsible,” said Chaves.

But, not giving way to an emergency vehicles is not the complaint of the emergency responders: vehicles parking in front of fire stations, blocking their exit. These are not isolated cases, it is happening with more frequency, say both Chaves and Batres.

In the last month alone, posted on the social media are two cases: one, in Barrio Mexico, a vehicle parked in front of the fire station; and, in Moravia, a driver failing to move over, to give way to the sirens of an ambulance for almost one kilometre, evidenced by the emergency vehicle’s onboard camera.