On a July 4 night when firefighters from Oakland and almost everywhere else in the Bay Area had to contend with a dizzying rash of vegetation fires and other calls, one Oakland Fire Department crew faced another obstacle – a crowd that temporarily blocked an engine crew from getting to a medical call.
On its Facebook page, Oakland Firefighters Local 55 posted on Sunday a video showing a crowd gathered around an Oakland fire truck at the intersection of Lakeshore and Brooklyn Avenues on the east side of Lake Merritt. The post said the crowd “was jumping, dancing and banging on the fire engine.”
Oakland Fire spokesman Michael Hunt said that engine was one of two assigned “roving patrols” stationed near the lake to respond to an expected barrage of calls on July 4. Hunt said the crew shown in the video had been called at 11:31 p.m. Saturday to a medical call near the lake.
Noting that an ambulance ended up reaching the 24-year-old patient first, Hunt said:
“It took them 14 minutes to get to that call, when it should have taken them two or three minutes.”
Hunt, who was riding along with an assistant Oakland fire chief well into the wee hours Sunday morning, said:
“The congregants at the lake have a serious responsibility to be mindful of the impact (of) what they’re doing, which is impeding the ability of emergency responders to get to emergencies. And every second counts.”
Hunt praised the patience of the crew of Engine 10, saying they also could have chosen to call the police to help deal with that lakeside crowd.
There is consideration being given to closing a lane of traffic on Lakeside from MacArthur Boulevard (Interstate Highway 580) south the Henry J. Kaiser Center at the south end of Lake Merritt, Hunt said, to better ensure emergency vehicles have a clear path.
Similar measures have been taken in some parts of the Oakland Hills, Hunt said, where narrow, winding streets have forced the city to ban resident parking on some streets top give fire engines and ambulances room to maneuver.