Every day across the country, firefighters and paramedics respond to urgent calls for help. But many of those responders say it’s taking longer to make their way through congested streets and past inattentive drivers. There are simply more pedestrians, more drivers, more distractions, and more cars that are nearly sound-proof — making it hard to hear a siren.
Riding along with fire departments in Chicago, Boston, Montgomery County, Maryland and Orange County, California, NBC News mounted GoPro cameras on rigs to see what they’re up against as they respond to emergencies.
We saw fire trucks stuck in intersections with heavy pedestrian traffic, drivers who refused to move over for fear of missing a turn, motorists who seemed paralyzed — unable to move over for paramedic units — and many more delays that cost emergency responders precious seconds.
We’ve all heard that “every second counts,” but what does that mean? A fire can double in size every minute, so modern firefighting tactics call for a big initial response to “hit it hard and fast,” according to Boston Fire Commissioner Joe Finn.
And paramedics must defibrillate someone in cardiac arrest within just a few minutes if the patient is to have any chance of survival.
So, an extra thirty seconds stuck in traffic can truly put a life in danger.
“What if it were your child who needed help,” said one firefighter-paramedic. “You’d want us there as fast as possible.”
First published September 2 2014, 3:04 PM
Tom Costello is an NBC News correspondent based in Washington, DC. He reports daily for the TODAY Show, NBC Nightly News, NBC News Radio, MSNBC and CNBC. In 2013, he was the most-used correspondent on any broadcast network evening news program. His portfolio of beats includes transportation, consumer and regulatory issues, NASA, business and economics.
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Since 2005, Costello has been NBCâ€™s lead aviation correspondent. Among the major aviation stories heâ€™s covered: the crash of Asiana flight 214 in San Francisco; Air France 447 over the Atlantic; Colgan Air flight 3407 in Buffalo; Comair 5191 in Lexington; and the Miracle on the Hudson landing in 2009 for which NBC News was honored with a prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award and a National Emmy Award for Breaking News Coverage.
In 2008, Costello led NBC's Emmy award-winning coverage of the Financial Bailout Talks in Congress. But he insists his favorite stories involve ordinary people living extraordinary lives.
Former NBC Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert brought Costello to the DC bureau in 2005. Previously, he was based at NBC News headquarters in New York.
From 1996 to 2004, Costello worked at CNBC Business News. He was on duty as CNBCâ€™s Nasdaq Correspondent in Manhattan when terrorists attacked on 9/11. From 1996-1999, he reported from London for both CNBC and NBC News, covering Europe's monetary union, the financial markets and the death of Princess Diana, among his many stories.
His assignments have taken him around the world -- from the terrorist bombings in Madrid, to the Korean DMZ, the Persian Gulf, Russia, Kazakhstan, Japan, Central America, Eastern and Western Europe.
Before joining CNBC, Costello contributed to Financial Times TV and CNN in Brussels, Belgium while also earning a master's degree. He spent six years at KUSA-TV in Denver, and two years at KVIA-TV in El Paso, TX. Heâ€™s honored to have been on the teams that have won National and Regional Emmys, a DuPont-Columbia Journalism Award, Edward R. Murrow honors, Sigma Delta Chi Awards, National Headliner honors, Best of Gannett, and Best Reporting honors from the Associated Press.
Costello holds a bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a master's degree in Administration/International Commerce from Boston Universityâ€™s Brussels Graduate Center. He is married to Astrid Boon of Kortenberg, Belgium, and has two children.