CHULA VISTA (CNS) - Public safety officials sought today to determine how to avoid any repeat of an emergency scene authority clash during which a California Highway Patrol officer arrested a firefighter dispatched to a South Bay freeway accident.
Chula Vista fire engineer Jacob Gregoire was among emergency personnel tending to two people injured in the crash on Interstate 805 near Telegraph Canyon Road when the patrolman told him a fire engine blocking the far left-hand lane had to be moved about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, city Fire Chief Dave Hanneman said.
When Gregoire responded that he could not do so right away, the officer told him he was under arrest, cuffed him and put him in the back of a squad car, according to Hanneman.
Personnel from both agencies then called in supervisors, who conferred and agreed to release Gregoire, who had been in custody for roughly a half-hour.
According to Hanneman, Gregoire conducted himself properly in telling the CHP officer -- who already had directed fire crews to move two other engines from the freeway -- that the emergency vehicle in question had to be there in order to shield an ambulance called in for those hurt in the wreck.
``Our goal at an emergency is to secure the scene and begin emergency care and transport victims to the hospital as soon as possible,'' Hanneman said.
``Last night, there were two injured passengers our crew needed to reach and treat in a rollover vehicle accident. While we work very well together with the CHP 99 percent of the time, we need to find out what happened last night and how we can improve training and communication to prevent something like this from happening in the future.''
In a joint statement released late this afternoon, Hanneman and CHP Border Division Chief Jim Abele deemed the episode ``an unfortunate incident.''
``Both of our agencies have the utmost respect for each other and our respective missions,'' they asserted. ``This was an isolated incident and not representative of the manner in which our agencies normally work together toward our common goal.''
This morning, officials from both agencies met to discuss what happened and seek ways to prevent a similar situation from arising again.
According to the chiefs' joint statement, the incident ``will be a topic of future joint training sessions in an ongoing effort to work more efficiently together.''