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New System Gives Ambulances Perpetual Green Light

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The emergency medical and public safety communities in Salt Lake City are welcoming a new traffic system that allows faster, safety patient transport to trauma centers.

Troy Madsen is an emergency physician at the University of Utah. He says in a crisis situation, saving minutes and even seconds can be the difference between life and death.

“I can personally think of several cases I’ve had just over the last few years where I feel if we had gotten to that patient to the emergency department even just a minute or two earlier, we might have been able to do something to save that person’s life," Madsen says.

Now emergency vehicles will be equipped with a device called Opticom that broadcasts a signal to a receiver mounted on a traffic light.  Peter Jager is an engineer with the Utah Department of Transportation. He says the signal will trigger a green light and cycle the cross street traffic from yellow to red.

 “This improves safety both for the ambulance and the traveling public by clearing the intersection and avoiding the ambulances from having to pass through on a red light," Jager says.

University of Utah Hospital, Primary Children’s Medical Center and UDOT among others have come together to pay for and implement the system. It will be installed in the university area and along Foothill Drive.

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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