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Popular route to Las Vegas has shortage of first responders

Just about every weekend, residents from all over Southern California head out to Las Vegas for the weekend. In the summer months, the traffic between Southern California and the Nevada desert, including Lake Havasu as well as Las Vegas, increases significant. Many travelers (some 40,000 daily) use Interstate 15, passing through the small town of Baker here in San Bernardino County.

Baker, which numbered just 735 residents in the last U.S. Census, doesn't have the resources to handle the amount of traffic and resulting accidents and injuries on this busy stretch of freeway. So far this year, emergency responders have dealt with four fatal collisions, 69 injury collisions and over 100 property damage collisions.

However, the fire station in Baker has only one captain and one firefighter on duty per shift. It is responsible not just for dealing with any freeway emergencies, but 4,000 square miles of land in total.

Fortunately, the Baker station has mutual assistance agreements with other area fire stations, the California Highway Patrol, a Marine Corps Logistics Base and others who can provide emergency response. As one fire captain, who's trying to get additional staffing for the station notes, however, the emergency response time is not always what it should be.

He says, "It's not a matter of things don't get done, it's just that things don't get accomplished as quickly as we would like. It's worrisome because lives are (in the) balance oftentimes."

Sometimes injuries are seriously or even turn out to be fatal if help doesn't arrive quickly enough and medical care isn't provided in a timely manner. Although emergency responders generally do their best to arrive at an accident scene as quickly as possible, that doesn't always happen for one reason or another. If an injury was compounded by slow response time, it may be worthwhile to determine what your legal options are.

Source: Las Vegas Sun, "As Californians flock to L.V., a public safety concern along the way," Jose Quintero, Daily Press, May 10, 2016

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