Grant could help emergency responders get to the scene faster

Traffic Flow in Jonesboro Brookland
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The cities of Jonesboro and Brookland plan to seek a grant to help first responders get to and from emergencies as quickly as possible.

The grant would help pay for the Opticom IR Traffic System in those Craighead County towns.

The system consists of two parts. Infrared equipment is installed on stoplights, which then communicates with coded infrared transmitters mounted on emergency vehicles.

In emergency situations, it allows those vehicles temporary right of way of the intersection.

According to Jonesboro Fire Chief Kevin Miller, 15 Jonesboro stoplights are outfitted with the Opticom system. The city is in the process of outfitting another six stoplights with the system.

Right now, some Jonesboro fire trucks are outfitted with Opticom but future plans include adding it to police cars too.

Chief Miller said if privately owned ambulance services would like to get involved, they could purchase the transmitters for their vehicles.

If the towns receive the grant from the Department of Transportation, the Opticom system would be added to more stoplights, including two on Highway 49 in Brookland.

Some Brookland residents like the idea.

"We do quite often hear the fire trucks, ambulances," Josh Sharp said. "There's quite a few accidents here lately."

Sharp owns Look What I Can Do Daycare in Brookland, he told Region 8 News that he thinks the system would help a lot on the Highway 49 corridor, especially during high traffic times.

"A lot of times the traffic is backed up so far beyond the light in all directions that it makes it very difficult for people to be aware that something like that is coming through," Sharp said. "It's hard to hear the sirens with all the traffic noise. I think something like that where they could just shoot on through there would be great for this area, especially with the accidents on this highway."

The Jonesboro city council finance committee will discuss the grant next Tuesday during a regularly scheduled meeting.

If the DOT awards the grant to Jonesboro and Brookland, the DOT will pay 50% of the costs.

Copyright 2016 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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