National News

Trains slowing emergency responders in Spring Hill

Posted October 31, 2017 4:36 p.m. EDT

— First responders in Spring Hill say freight trains are sometimes adding 10 minutes to their emergency response times.

On at least three emergency calls in recent months, a Spring Hill fire truck was caught at the CSX railroad crossing on Beechcroft Road because a parked train was blocking the road.

"She was trapped in the car. No life-threatening injuries, but again it took us out of our normal response time five to six minutes. Response time was 15, maybe 17 minutes," said Spring Hill Fire Chief Terry Hood.

With no alternate route around the crossing, Hood has had to change his department's emergency response plan, calling other departments on the west side of Spring Hill to help out when the road is closed.

"Why do they have to stop right in the middle of the road to hook and unhook?" asked Lisa Ramos, who lives near the railroad crossing.

Residents said trains stop there several times a day. It happened Monday during News 4's interview with the police and fire chiefs.

"Maybe we need to start sending some fines to the railroad company, and maybe that will wake them up," Ramos said.

Spring Hill Police Chief Don Brite and Hood met with CSX officials in May. They give them a phone number to call if there's an emergency.

"It's not acceptable, but it's what we're dealt with," Hood said.

Hood said he is concerned someone could die because they can't reach them in time.

"We know it's a problem, we're just trying to correct it in a better way," he said.

In Spring Hill, it's illegal for a train to block a road for more than five minutes. The penalty is a $50 fine.