I-40 bridge reopening comes as a relief to first responders

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 9:43 PM CDT
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WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (KAIT) - The I-40 bridge is back open, something that comes as a relief to first responders.

Barry Ealy, West Memphis fire chief, said the reopening comes at the perfect time adding that they’ll be able to save more lives more quickly.

“It really hurt our response time to house fires because a lot of the 18 wheelers were rerouted down 7th, which is Broadway, and it was blocking our fire station,” Ealy said.

He explained many times they simply couldn’t get out of the station because of traffic blocking them in.

“On occasion, we had extractions where people were trapped inside their vehicles, and we had a hard time traveling over with stalled traffic trying to give assistance to those patients,” he said.

The department has even seen an uptick in calls because of the delta variant.

The bridge being back open will also help with emergency medical services (EMS) calls.

“It’ll help with our response time getting trauma patients over to Regional One hospital. It’s the closest trauma center that we have. With the bridge being just down, it really delayed us being able to get emergency care to the Regional One hospital in a timely manner,” he said.

He even got on the bridge Monday, calling it a breath of fresh air.

They’re more than relieved to see it back open.

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