022620_MNS_Roswell_Road_001 Roswell Road

Traffic backs up on Roswell Road at the Lake Placid Drive intersection in Sandy Springs heading north toward the Interstate 285 interchange during afternoon rush-hour traffic.

The city of Sandy Springs is hoping a new system installed in all of its fire department vehicles and ambulances will lead to saving more lives by reducing response times.

“I’m totally for this. This could be the difference between life or death in a fire response or heart attack or whatever,” District 6 Sandy Springs City Councilman Andy Bauman said of the system.

At its meeting Feb. 18 at City Springs, the council voted 6-0 to approve the purchase of $676,284 in materials and installation services for the fire department’s emergency vehicle signal preemption project. The city had already included $700,000 in the fiscal 2020 budget for the system.

Through a program where it enters into a contract with the Georgia Department of Transportation, it will outfit 26 vehicles and 113 intersection signals with Temple Inc. devices.

The devices use a system that combines cellular, radio and GPS technology with a cloud-based software program to process the route as emergency vehicles leave fire stations, communicating with the signals to have them turn green for major thoroughfares before they arrive at the intersection so any traffic clogging it has already been flushed out.

According to a news release, the fire department got over 14,000 calls for service in 2019 with most of them coming out of Fire Stations No. 1,2, and 4, which encompasses routes along Roswell Road in the heart of the city.

One recurring challenge the city has is its emergency vehicles maneuvering around stopped traffic and traffic queuing at intersections. But the new technology is expected to save an estimated 10 to 12 seconds per intersection or an overall savings of 20% in response time.

Bauman asked the city staff, which already tracks emergency vehicle response times, to report a year after the devices are installed to see if the data supports Temple’s claims.

District 4 Councilwoman Jody Reichel asked if other cities’ fire engines, which sometimes come into Sandy Springs to help put out fires or respond to other calls, use the same system.

Kristen Wescott, Sandy Springs’ traffic/transportation unit manager, said the cities of Alpharetta and Marietta are considering adding Temple devices. Winter Horbal, a traffic product salesperson with Temple, said the city of Atlanta has already done so.

After the meeting, city spokeswoman Sharon Kraun said the next steps are for the contract to be finalized and then to set the schedule to install the devices. She added the devices will be installed and tested before operations begin, with the entire project expected to be completed by the end of the year.

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