If you have medical emergency you want paramedics to get there the fastest way possible. But Fact Finders has shocking video showing responders forced to detour in an area where they are often called. The southeast corner of 168th and Wes Maple in Omaha.
Savoy Pizza restaurant attracts customers but it’s not easy for them to get there. The owner blames the city for putting his restaurant on an island because of one. Greg Tschida says, "I believe we need a left hand turn for this corner both for growth and for safety."
His business neighbor Maple Ridge retirement community had emergency crews respond 19 times since July. Concerned manager John Cleveland says closest response is from the north but the median on 168th prevents left turns. So fire trucks have to take a round about way to reach the retirement community and 150 senior residents. Joanne Morrow ,a resident says, " It may make a different by taking longer to get back in here."
How much longer? Greg shot video of a responding fire truck forced right and when the rig comes back around to the entrance road our stop watch shows 58 seconds more than if there had been a left turn lane. Greg Tschida says, "this ambulance could have taken a left a minute ago and been into the property already."
But Omaha’s traffic engineer says a left turn can't be cut into the median. Murthy Koti says, " It does not fit our standards. It’s just too close to the major intersection of 168th and west maple so we have serious safety concerns." Like turning across two lanes of downhill traffic.
So access to the corner from the north will remain a maze of turns to Bedford Street and down. The manager of Maple Ridge retirement community says the best alternative is for the city to continue that street through private property so his 150 residents will have easier access.
But the city doesn't own the land. It's usually a **private** developer who puts in or extends a street. While that may happen in the future - for now emergency responders will use the existing route -senior residents and business customers on that corner just have to give them a minute.
Fact Finders showed the response video to an Omaha fire commander. In an e-mail Battalion Chief Tim McCaw says crews pre-plan and the rigs responding to the retirement community appear to be taking the most efficient route.