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Diatribe: Can 911 Crews Navigate Confusing Detours?


Years ago, I was part of a committee that was responsible for moving our entire company into a new office space.  It was a large undertaking but the committee did a good job of keeping everything on schedule and under budget.  One of my biggest concerns was the fact that the new building did not have a street number posted on it and it was often confusing to identify it without using landmarks as guides.  I worried that delivery trucks might have difficulty locating our office space and that emergency vehicles would be confused in the event that an ambulance was required.  We were told by building management that there had never been a problem with the lack of signage and that there should be no concern.

Years later, I unexpectedly passed out at the office and an attorney with whom I worked closely took it upon herself to call 911 for emergency assistance.  I remember lying on the floor of the boss’s office thinking to myself “This is so embarrassing.  Let me get back to my desk.  The ambulance probably won’t be able to find us anyway.”  Eventually, the paramedics found me and took me to the Emergency Room for observation.

Recently, a main road in my neighborhood was closed due to road construction.  A detour around the construction site was established and has caused quite a bit of confusion for area residents.  While sitting in traffic the other day it occurred to me that an ambulance or fire engine, should anyone in our neighborhood require their services, could find it challenging to make its way to our homes in an efficient amount of time.

A quick call to City Hall revealed that a great deal of time and consideration had been put into the planning of the detour and that emergency services were aware of the new route they would need to follow to get to my area.  It’s a good thing, too, because the road construction is scheduled to last for quite a long time.  That telephone call should be enough to convince me that there is no need to worry and that help will quickly arrive should the need arrive.

Still, I find it doubtful that a large fire engine can efficiently maneuver along the detour without practice and I worry that, should an ambulance miss a turn, lifesaving services could be delayed and dire consequences could result.

Would you worry if a confusing long-term detour was constructed in your neighborhood?

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