The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Emergency responders plan around construction


Ryan Jarvi/Daily Globe

BEACON AMBULANCE Service vehicles are parked at the station in Ironwood as road construction crews work in the background along U.S. 2. Emergency responders are coordinating with construction crews to plan the best alternate routes in the event of an emergency.

IRONWOOD - With construction along U.S. 2 diverting traffic on a detour through downtown, local emergency responders are coordinating with road construction crews and other agencies to insure response times aren't effected.

Beacon Ambulance Service provides services to Gogebic and Iron counties, and parts of Ontonagon County. Drivers also provide transfers for Aspirus Grand View Hospital, which is located east of Beacon's Ironwood station on U.S. 2.

Though construction has redirected eastbound U.S. 2 traffic through Hurley and Ironwood's downtown, Randy Forstrom, operating manager at Beacon, said he's not too concerned about the construction obstructing their response time.

"We're going to work through it day to day," he said. "We've got a plan to get us around this and cover the north side when they get digging close. We'll be adjusting every day depending on where the crews are."

In preparation of the construction, Forstrom said his vehicle fleet will be spread throughout the area to provide service. One ambulance will be in Wakefield, one will float between Wakefield and Bessemer, two will be kept at Beacon's station in Hurley and two will remain at the station along U.S. 2 in Ironwood.

Forstrom said his drivers will be coordinating with, and following the plans of Ironwood Public Safety Department.

Andrew DiGiorgio, IPSD director, said he will frequently meet with the construction crews and get daily updates during the summer.

"I'll attend these meetings and then come back and inform our guys of what's going on," he said. "It's always changing, so we just want to have a backup plan in place."

DiGiorgio said the project won't require closing every street crossing U.S. 2, so emergency responders will still be able to get to the north side of the highway.

"From the fire side of things we've implemented an automatic mutual aid," DiGiorgio said.

Mutual aid agreements allow separate agencies to provide assistance across jurisdictional boundaries.

Since certain hydrants will become inaccessible because of the construction, IPSD will coordinate efforts with other agencies in the area, such as those of Ironwood Township, to respond to a fire with tanker trucks that can transport large amounts of water to a location.

"Communities are working together through this," DiGiorgio said. "It will be a challenge, but one that we can handle."


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