LARGO, Fla. — When there's an emergency on the roads, our first responders don't think twice about helping someone.
While they hope their flashing lights keep them safe from harm, that's not always the case. Just this week, a Manatee County deputy was almost hit while conducting a traffic stop.
Largo Fire Rescue has a new tool to help alert drivers and keep first responders safe.
The Safety Cloud is a system that works with navigation systems in many newer vehicles and the traffic app 'Waze.' It can help give drivers the notice they need to get out of the way of emergency vehicles.
Several of the fire rescue vehicles have new equipment that will basically set off these alerts when they have their flashing lights activated. As a driver gets close to the flashing lights, whether the emergency vehicles are on their way to a scene or at the scene, the driver will get an alert telling them emergency vehicles are in the area. The driver gets the alert about 30 seconds before getting near an emergency situation, giving them time to make better decisions rather than waiting until the last second.
Brian Ammons has been with Largo Fire Rescue for 15 years and has high hopes for this new system.
"We're concentrating on trying to help the people that we're there to help. We're trying to get the equipment that we need so it helps that individual driving know there's first responders there. They're doing their job. Let me get over. Let me let them do their job," Ammons said.
Those extra seconds are so vital, especially if emergency vehicles are in the roadway or off to the side. It lets those first responders focus on what they need to do instead of drivers not paying attention.
Several departments around Pinellas County also have this Safety Cloud, including St Petersburg, Clearwater, Pinellas Park and Tarpon Springs.
If you want to make sure you're getting those alerts, just download the 'Waze' app on your phone.