Injuries, vehicle damage will not hamper Shelby fire

By: Brad D. Bates | Shelby - Utica News | Published March 27, 2013

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — There will be no impact on services following a traffic accident between a civilian pickup truck and a Shelby Township Fire Department ambulance March 17.

Shelby Township Fire Chief Jim Swinkowski said that the crash disabled the ambulance for a minimum of six weeks and placed two of his firefighter paramedics on the shelf with injuries, but both losses should be covered by his department’s depth of equipment and staff.

“The vehicle is going to be, at best, sitting for up to six weeks,” Swinkowski said. “We do maintain two reserve ambulances, so there is no impact (on service). We have two in reserve because of maintenance and ongoing mechanical problems.”

“Both firefighters will be off work for a few days because they are very sore after the impact, but they’re not going to miss any substantial time,” Swinkowski added.

Swinkowski said he had tried to contact the other driver in the accident, who was also injured when his vehicle collided with the ambulance as it was attempting to cross the intersection of 23 Mile and Schoenherr roads, but he had been unable to at press time.

He also said that his department’s investigation of the accident, which occurred with the ambulance empty of civilians as it headed to an emergency call, showed that the ambulance driver observed all of his department’s protocols.

Swinkowski said the accident occurred as the ambulance was trying to pull through the intersection while its traffic flow had a red light.

He said that, as the ambulance proceeded through the intersection, it was struck by the pickup, whose vision of the ambulance may have been impeded by other traffic.

Shelby Township Police Chief Roland Woelkers said that the investigation into the accident was ongoing and that he did not believe alcohol was a factor, despite it occurring on St. Patrick’s Day.

“When you see lights and hear sirens, if possible, pull off the road to the right and stop,” Woelkers said of what drivers should do in an ideal situation when they see or hear an emergency vehicle approaching. “And, if you cannot stop, wait for them to pull around you.”