Fatal Crash Raises Questions Over Emergency Response - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Fatal Crash Raises Questions Over Emergency Response

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by Jeff Tang

GREENBRIER, Tenn. - During a life-threatening emergency, most people would want the closest available help to rush to the scene. But one Robertson County mother said that didn't happen when her son was involved in a head-on collision in May. Instead, the two nearest ambulances to the crash stayed parked, while two people lay dying.

The biggest problem in this case was where this accident took place: on Springfield Highway right on the Davidson-Robertson County line.

"It was a head on collision, both drivers died," recalled Lori Gregory through tears.

Gregory's son was one of those drivers who died.

"For whatever reason, there are lots of accidents there," said Greenbrier Mayor Billy Wilson.

Mayor Wilson and his fire department heard the call on the crash. Emergency responders at the Ridgetop Fire Hall heard it too. The accident was just three miles away from them.

"We had an ambulance ready to go and knew about the call," said Ridgetop Mayor Darrell Denton.

But neither department responded to the crash because they said they weren't allowed to. Since the accident technically happened in Davidson County, it was Nashville Fire Department's case. They sent the nearest ambulances from their side.

"It is a long response but we looked at the response times and they're within the acceptable standard: 10, 11 minutes. We'd like to be better," said Deputy Chief Steve Meador with Nashville Fire Department.

The ambulance in Ridgetop could have been there in two minutes, but it could only be sent out if Davidson County had asked for help. Lori Gregory wants to know why that call never happened.

"I don't know if it would have saved him or not, but anybody knows the sooner you get to a person the more chances they have of survival," said Gregory.

Nashville Fire officials pointed out that it is impossible to know how bad a crash is until they get there. They didn't ask for help, because they didn't know they needed it.

"We're here to save lives. It's not a turf thing, it's not a jurisdiction thing, it's getting on the scene and making assessment then asking for more help," said Meador.

On May 30th, Lori Gregory's 18-year-old son JR died, and so did the 21-year-old woman whose car he collided with. Nothing will change that. But Lori hopes she can change the way crashes here are handled.

"I'll never see him graduate college, never see him going to married, have kids. I'm not going to grow old for him to help me. I'm angry, I'm very angry," said Gregory.

A mutual aid agreement is in place that allows Robertson and Davidson Counties help one another, but only at the other's request.

Lori Gregory hopes the counties adopt an automatic mutual aid agreement, which allows emergency responders to help without seeking permission first.

Ridgetop and Greenbrier's mayors said they are all for it. And Metro fire officials said they're looking into it as an option.

Nashville Fire officials said an ambulance stationed in Goodlettsville would have been the first to respond to the crash, but it was out on a different emergency call at the time.

Email: jtang@newschannel5.com 

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