Is Cape Coral’s utilities project limiting first responders?

Construction is a headache and annoying for people who live near the Cape Coral Utilities Extension Project. It could also create a life-or-death situation for anyone in need of immediate help.

“If you have a first responder coming, you want them to get here as soon as possible,” Bill Spahan said.

So how do paramedics plan for these construction slowdowns?

Every Friday, the City of Cape Coral sends out a list of road closures in the UEP area.

Then, it’s up to the firefighters to make sure they know exactly how to get to you even if your street is closed — orange barricades, detours and dirt roads.

“It’s definitely muddy when it rains,” Spahan said. “There’s no doubt about that.”

Cape’s UEP spans several neighborhoods in the northeast and northwest quadrants of Cape Coral.

“One day you could be this is stopped and then you’re stopped over here,” Spahan said. “It just keeps detouring around different areas.”

But if you can’t drive down certain roads, what happens when you call 911?

“The roads are muddy,” said Mike Russell, Cape Coral’s fire division chief of operations. “The roads are dirty. That’s just a factor that we have to deal with.”

Every week, their crews are tasked with making sure they know what roads they can and can’t use in an emergency, Russell said.

“So this is the current UEP area. We have Station 7; over here, Station 8,” Russell said. “They might put it on the wall by their map and say, ‘OK, well 13th Street is closed. We need to come in from the other way.’”

Each week, the city sends out a list of road closures. And then individual fire stations research the fastest way to get to you.

“It just might not be the normal route that we would take,” Russell said.

To make sure these detours aren’t a factor in a 911 situation.

“Especially in the UEP, we just want to know how to get to a call as fast as possible, as efficiently as possible,” Russell said. “Because time is important whether it’s a medical call or a fire call.”

Reporter:Brooke Shafer
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