If you live in Windward Bay or a high-rise along Club Longboat Road and dialed 911 in the past week, you might have gotten a slower-than-usual response time.
Pavement projects blocked access points that firefighter/paramedics use in emergencies, but because permits weren’t required for the projects, first responders weren’t notified that they were under way.
Instead, they found out about the project while responding to medical calls in both communities.
“There were a couple of calls at Windward Bay during which we could not gain access to the south end of buildings and we had to park in the main roads,” said Longboat Key Fire Rescue Chief Paul Dezzi, who told firefighters that they would need to go through bushes to access Windward Bay in the event of a fire.
In another call, firefighters entered Club Longboat Road at its north entrance, then had to turn around, go further south on Gulf of Mexico Drive and access the road at the south entrance.
Each response was most likely delayed by three to five minutes, Dezzi said.
Firefighters counted seven similar projects just last week, including the Windward Bay and Club Longboat Road projects.
To avoid delays in emergency response times, Dezzi is asking properties to contact the fire department before making repairs to property entrances and asphalt.
With notification, firefighters can drive through the area and determine how they would access it in an emergency. The department can work with contractors to ensure that they aren’t blocking access.
Longboat Key Police Chief Pete Cumming said that although he was concerned that police vehicles could have trouble getting into properties during recent projects, access hasn’t been an issue.
Still, he urged properties to contact the police department as well as the fire department before beginning projects that could impact road access.
“I think it’s just a matter of common sense to notify us if a road is going to be blocked,” Cumming said.
Contact the fire department at 316-1944 and the police department at 316-1977.
The Longboat Key Police Department will soon begin leaving “auto alerts” on vehicles in parking lots to remind motorists to lock vehicle doors and remove valuables.
According to Police Chief Pete Cumming, officers will walk through public parking lots looking for anything visible that could make the vehicle a target: a door that is clearly unlocked, an open window or valuables that are located in plain sight.
Officers will then leave an alert with boxes checked for whether the vehicle is locked or unlocked and a list of any visible items that should be removed from the vehicle.