What Brent Spence Bridge closures mean for first responders

Posted at 4:30 AM, Jun 23, 2017

CINCINNATI -- Summer lane closures on the Brent Spence Bridge will largely be a matter of small annoyances -- earlier mornings, longer waits in traffic -- for most commuters in Greater Cincinnati. 

For first responders, however, traffic jams are far more serious. Any delay that adds minutes to their response times leaves victims of emergencies in danger that much longer.

"It's going to be a huge backup," Matt Gunderman, director of air care and mobile care at UC Medical Center, said. "Some of these, I would think, are going to add 20 minutes to an hour."

And those are just the emergencies that happen elsewhere. Gunderman said crashes on the bridge itself could become more frequent as drivers struggle to navigate the challenges presented by construction zones and long delays.

Fortunately, there are solutions to both these problems. Gunderman said he anticipates fire departments and hospitals making judicious use of air care to bypass clogged roads. However, weather also plays a role in air care use: Choppers can't fly in high winds, freezing rain or lightning.

When it comes to crashes and emergencies on the bridge itself, he encouraged commuters to avoid panic, slow down, and be cautious and patient with construction workers and first responders on their route.

"If you see an accident on the bridge, anticipate that there's police fire and ambulances that've got to get to that scene," he said. "We want drivers to start making a path for them as soon as possible."