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Palm Beach Fire Department navigates calls during President Trump's visits

Posted at 4:56 PM, Mar 03, 2017
and last updated 2019-03-26 18:48:31-04

For Palm Beach firefighters, navigating island traffic is tough enough, let alone when President Trump is here.

Technology inside their fire trucks allows them to change traffic lights and better navigate through island traffic, even more important when Presidential visits create roadblocks.

"With him (President Trump) on the island, we have restricted access to and from the island. There's only so many places that traffic can go on and off the island and *this gives us the ability to actually stop traffic before it gets in our way," Palm Beach Fire Rescue Division Fire Chief Sean Baker said.

Baker is talking about the Opticom traffic control system which is built into their fire trucks. "It knows what direction you are traveling and you don't even need to see the light for it to influence it," Baker said.

The Opticom system is in all 7 fire trucks on the island. When they are responding to an emergency it automatically turns the light green to give them a clear path.

"When the lights activate on the truck, it actually cycles the traffic lights and gives drivers a chance to get out of the way of the emergency vehicles, giving us safer travel through that intersection," Baker added.

While the system is always used, Baker says it's even more beneficial when presidential visits create traffic tie-ups and block roads around Mar-a-Lago.

The fire trucks have to go through U.S. Secret Service sweeps just like everyone else when going by the president's "Winter White House." Those sweeps have not caused significant delays in responding to calls, Baker says.

He says the fire department is in constant contact with the Secret Service and sometimes takes on additional responsibilities during presidential visits.

The fire department also has the ability to shut down traffic and travel in the opposite direction if needed, to help get a patient off the island and to the hospital. In addition, they have added additional locations for a medical helicopter to land if necessary.


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