Potholes causing driving pains for local paramedics

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Potholes across Western New York are becoming a pain for paramedics. They say this year the potholes have been worse than in years past, which can be dangerous for first responders and patients.

“When somebody calls for help they’re likely having one of the worst days of their lives,” said Thomas Maxian, paramedic and regional director for AMR Ambulance.

Thomas Maxian says when he has to transport someone to the hospital in an AMR ambulance, he wants to make the ride as smooth as possible. But he says it’s been a bumpy road in Buffalo this year – literally.

“It’s very difficult to maneuver around traffic. It’s more difficult to maneuver around traffic and potholes,” said Maxian.

Both city of Buffalo and Erie County crews spent the last few weeks patching potholes. Maxian says road crews have done a good job trying to fix them, but he says they’re worse this year from the city to rural areas. He says that can present a major problem for paramedics and patients.

“We’ve had some instances of flat tires and other things,” said Maxian.

Maxian says that’s happened during a transport where another ambulance had to come to take the patient to a hospital.

That’s why he says drivers have to be careful when trying to avoid a pothole.

“We have to be careful not to make large jerky motions with the vehicles, not to swerve around you have to proceed slowly and cautiously,” said Maxian.

In fact, Maxian says that’s part of their training. Many first responders will ride on a stretcher in the ambulance while another is behind the wheel.

“It really helps us be much more empathetic. We literally get into the shoes of the patient and it makes you much more cognizant when you’re sitting here after you’ve taken a ride back there,” said Maxian.

Everything in the back of the ambulance is strapped in and secure.

“We do everything we can to make a potentially dangerous journey as safe as we can,” said Maxian.

He says it’s important for drivers to remember, when you hear those sirens or see those flashing lights you need to pull over.

“Pull to right as quickly and as safely as possible to enable to emergency vehicle to move around them on the left that’ll really help everybody out,” said Maxian.

Both city of Buffalo and Erie County crews have been out patching potholes in the last few weeks. Erie County Public Works Commissioner Bill Geary tells news 4 if weather allows, road crews will continue filling potholes all week.

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