All last year, as part of GTT’s Opticom 50th anniversary celebrations, we asked public safety professionals to send us their memorable stories of Opticom systems in action.
The response was hugely impressive, with dozens of fire service personnel across North America responding with their stories of how Opticom Emergency Vehicle Preemption systems have saved lives, improved response times and enhanced operational efficiency.
We can talk all day about response times and technology, but the people who use Opticom every day know best how it makes their jobs safer and easier. Here’s what they had to say:
The Opticom difference
“St. Bernard Parish Fire Department started using Opticom in 1997. It was installed at 21 of our intersections. It has helped our units respond safely and quickly to emergencies in our Parish (county), accident free. In 2005 our community was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Our entire Parish flooded and all of infrastructure was destroyed. With the help of FEMA, it would take seven years to have Opticom up and running again. During this long period without Opticom, we experienced several apparatus accidents at intersections while responding to emergencies. Since our GPS system was installed in 2012, while responding to emergencies we have not had one accident at an Opticom intersection. Emergency Vehicle Preemption works and it enhances the safety of our citizens and firefighters every day.”
– St. Bernard Parish Fire Department, Louisiana
Saving lives and property
“Early in my career while responding to an early morning house fire, we received reports that there were exposures to adjacent homes with people trapped. As I maneuvered the engine through the rush hour traffic, the Opticom system actuated the traffic signals and provided a clear and seamless response to the incident. Our fire district was the first in the State of Washington to receive the new Opticom technology when it was first available and I can say without reservations that because of the Opticom system in use on that day, lives and property were saved.”
– Washington State
Working for smaller communities
“I worked for a small combination fire department in Oregon during the late 1990’s that didn’t have Opticom because the city literally only had 1 traffic light and no Opticom receiver. Once notified that a new intersection was being constructed with a new traffic light, the fire chief worked with the city to ensure it would have an Opticom receiver. Subsequently, the chief ordered Opticom emitters for a select number of our response vehicles which I was personally involved with installing. Having the signal pre-emption not only facilitated a rapid response within our own city, it also improved mutual aid responses into neighboring communities that had more widespread use of Opticom.”
Safety for crews
“I had been to a paramedic conference where one of the lectures was on emergency response drivers being held criminally responsible for ‘blowing’ through intersections and causing accidents. It was a short time thereafter where we implemented the Opticom system in our area and we saw an immediate improvement in driver safety and response times. As a new driver (at that time) of emergency vehicles it was beneficial to have the system in place. We couldn’t wait to have more intersections installed with Opticom!”
“When I was assigned responsibility of our city’s traffic preemption program, I found we had an even mix of Opticom GTT and [competitor] preemption products on our streets. Now, as we replace or upgrade one of our 56 protected intersections, we are going exclusively Opticom GTT due to their reliability and availability.”
Improved response times and ROI
“Our jurisdiction began using Opticom IR around 1996 for all of our Fire/EMS emergency responses. It has greatly improved our response times when meeting our citizens’ emergent requests for service. We are exploring the next phase of Opticom with GPS technology which we are very excited about. Safe responses to the scene with reduced fleet maintenance costs all make this technology worth every penny. I would encourage all public safety systems to seriously invest into this most reliable technology. Keeping our crews safe during responses with controlled signalized intersections keeps the public safe also! A great investment that works 24/7! Thank you!!!”
Opticom has been a trusted tool for more than 50 years — fire departments around the world use the technology every day. Opticom continues to evolve as departments’ needs change, as well.
Looking for more information? Get in touch with an Opticom specialist today: