Amherst Town Center 1:15 AM McMurphy's Bar, Antonio's Pizza
Last night -- or I should say early this morning -- all five of our ambulances were busy dealing with ETOH (passed out drunk) students, four police cruisers (probably all the on duty ones we had) were at the scene of a drunk driver who had driven around concrete barricades, up on to active railroad tracts becoming hopelessly stuck ... when a call came in from South Amherst for an "unresponsive baby with difficulty breathing."
Around Midnight APD dispersed a large crowd of unruly students from Phillips Street
Amherst Fire Department had to send a fire engine from Central Station and wait for one of our ambulances already at the hospital to return back to Amherst, thus causing a delay. Obviously if our first responders had the personnel and equipment needed they could keep delays to a minimum, increasing both safety and peace of mind.
The last 12 hours should serve as yet another wake up call. Town officials need to act quickly and decisively. Our police and fire department's are understaffed. And somebody is going to die.
Over the past six consecutive years, through sound fiscal management, the town has had an end-of-the-year surplus of just over $1 million. A quarter of that would go a long way to solving staffing problems with our beleaguered first responders.
Tax exempt UMass, the second largest landowner in town, also needs to step up and help fund the professional providers who react to emergencies their students create. Ditto Hampshire College.
Alcohol abuse is an epidemic that needs serious attention. Anyone remember that UMass student motorcyclist on his way back to campus last April only weeks before he was to graduate, slaughtered by a wrong way drunk driver on Rt 116 in Hadley? I'm sure his family remembers!
DA Sullivan and State Police need to set up yet another high profile DUI roadblock in town before Halloween. Senator Stan Rosenberg and Representative Ellen Story should file a bill making it a crime (or at least a civil offense) to be in an automobile with a drunk driver and not report it to authorities.
Car stuck on railroad tracks near Amtrak Station
I noticed the passenger of the drunk driver who drove his car onto the rail road tracks checking his smart phone while watching his drunk friend being escorted away.
Jack Thornton. You drink & drive, you go to jail
Maybe somewhat sober people would think twice about getting in a car with a drunk friend if they knew they could be held responsible. Kind of gives new meaning to the slogan, "Friends don't let friends drive drunk." And as one of my favorite twitterian's pointed out, "Especially on railroad tracks!"
When I told one of the cops I was live tweeting from the scene early this morning he asked, "Is anybody listening?" God I hope so.
Jack Thornton, 23 Bennett Rd, Gardner, MA, age 19
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