California authorities are investigating a massive incident that left 15 people injured when two fire trucks collided on April 16. Among those who suffered personal injury are six firefighters, according to news reports. One person suffered critical injuries after one of the fire trucks smashed into a nearby restaurant that was filled with diners.
Authorities say they are still not sure exactly what caused the crash, which occurred even though both fire trucks had activated their lights and sirens. One of the trucks was from Alhambra, and the other is out of Monterey Park. The collision occurred at an intersection in Monterey Park. The California Highway Patrol is reportedly leading the investigation into the collision; they intend to review information including the trucks' speed and the operators' radio communication.
Official reports show that nine of the victims were transported to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, while others were taken directly to Garfield Medical Center. The latter facility is just about 100 yards away from the site of the crash. Responders had to work around the truck in order to reach patients; more than a third of that vehicle was embedded inside the restaurant. The vehicle could not be moved until the investigation into the accident was complete.
Fire officials say that Monterey Park firefighters wear headsets for communicating with dispatchers. It is not clear whether the firefighters in that truck could have heard the other vehicle's sirens. Alhambra representatives say that some of the firefighters on their rig had more than 20 years' firefighting experience, so it is not clear where the process broke down.
California drivers should be able to use the state's roads without worrying that they will be further injured by emergency response vehicles. These responders have a responsibility to safely operate their vehicles, even if they are traveling to an emergency. Firefighters should receive adequate training to prevent such injurious accidents from ever occurring.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Monterey Park crash: Fire trucks had lights, sirens on, chief says" Alicia Banks, Ruben Vives and Kate Mather, Apr. 16, 2014