Seconds slipped away as firefighter Mike Abernethy eagerly waited to enter the intersection of Research Boulevard and Burnet Road near Fire Station No. 8 in North Austin.
Vehicles blazed by that Thursday afternoon as traffic began to build at the crossroad. Abernethy could only watch and wait in frustration as minutes piled up in their response time.
“If we turn on our sirens, it would push traffic into the intersection where they could be hit by oncoming traffic,” Abernethy said. “We can’t do that. We should be at the emergency within four minutes, but, on a busy day, we could be at this light for at least two minutes.”
For anyone waiting for firefighters to respond to their emergency, seconds beyond eight minutes can truly be the difference between life or death, according to Austin Fire Division Chief Palmer Buck.