Fatal Crash Re-Ignites Mutual Aid Controversy - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Fatal Crash Re-Ignites Mutual Aid Controversy

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by Jeff Tang

RIDGETOP, Tenn. - In April, Lori Gregory's son, J.R., died in a car crash on Springfield Highway. Lori knew it wouldn't be the last tragedy on this road.

A motorcyclist died and his passenger was critically injured during a wreck on the road Saturday afternoon.

"It was approximately 10 to 20 feet from my son's wreck, the same area," said Gregory.

The crash, like the wreck that killed J.R., took place in Davidson County, so Nashville Fire responded to the scene. But in both cases, Robertson County's emergency responders were closer.

"You had six people, two trucks and an ambulance within five minutes," said Greenbrier Mayor Billy Wilson.

On Saturday, it took eight minutes for paramedics to arrive, and more than 16 minutes for an ambulance to show up at the scene.  Meanwhile, Ridgetop's ambulance sat less than two miles away.

"The victim was a good friend and a good neighbor. What could we have done if we got there sooner?" asked Ridgetop Mayor Darrell Denton.

Lori Gregory is campaigning for an automatic mutual aid agreement between Tennessee's counties, which means the closest responders would be dispatched to an emergency no matter what the affiliation.

But Nashville Fire officials said the situation is more complicated than it looks. Counties use different technology, which affects communication, and officials may disagree on the details. Should aid be used for all 911 calls? How far into another county should an ambulance go?

"We want to get the best help out as quickly as possible and we are entertaining any possibility of doing that," said Assistant Chief Steve Meador with Nashville Fire.

That answer isn't good enough for Lori Gregory, who believes too few people are talking about the problem, and too little is being done to fix it.

"I'm furious.  I'm beyond mad," Gregory said. "When is someone going to listen, and make the changes we need to help people? This is getting ridiculous."

Gregory has lobbied local and state elected officials, asking them to change the laws to allow mutual aid.   However, she said legislators don't appear willing to act on the issue.

Meanwhile, Chief Meador said he's spoken to EMS directors in other counties to work out a solution.

Earlier this year, a two-year-old child died near the Davidson-Rutherford County line.

In that case, Davidson County responded to the call, despite the fact that Rutherford County rescuers were closer.

Email: jtang@newschannel5.com 

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