Police officers, firefighters and paramedics have no time to waste when responding to emergencies, and the Homeland Security Department wants to keep everyone safe as they speed to the scene.
The department awarded a $1.1 million contract to a Chicago-based startup to flesh out cellular technology that automatically notifies drivers when they're in the vicinity of police cars, firetrucks and ambulances. The system, developed by HAAS Alert, could ultimately reduce the number of collisions involving emergency response vehicles, saving both lives and dollars.
Vehicle collisions are one of the biggest dangers first responders face in the line of duty.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency ranked collisions as the second most common cause of death among on-duty firefighters between 2010 and 2016. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated ambulances are involved in some 4,500 crashes every year, and from 1980 to 2008, the administration found collisions accounted for about 36 percent of on-duty police officer fatalities.
These accidents not only put responders and drivers in harm's way, but they can also have major implications for communities that can't afford to repair or replace wrecked vehicles, HAAS Alert CEO Cory Hohs told Nextgov.