Any ambulance driver knows that precious minutes can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. Those minutes can also determine if a stroke victim recovers or suffers from permanent paralysis.

That's the reason lawmakers let ambulances have flashing, attention grabbing lights and wailing sirens. It's so motorists allow ambulances to reach their emergency destinations as quickly as possible.

It's difficult to understand why there should be a controversy over the use of an emergency lane in Weissport for an ambulance to more quickly reach its destination. That ambulance in question even received a police escort.

There's a detour because the Thomas J. McCall Memorial Bridge is having deck replacement. Long backups of motor vehicles sometimes occur at the bridge.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation installed an emergency lane on the Weissport bridge so ambulance crews, firefighters and police could escape the backups during true emergencies.

A Weissport official, spoke out about the ambulance using the emergency lane and he's getting his way.

Weissport Borough Council never said the ambulance couldn't use the emergency lane. PennDOT didn't close the lane.

So why shouldn't ambulance personnel continue using it?

Franklin Township Chief of Police Tom Beltz said he won't escort the ambulance through the lane anymore because of the controversy.

An ambulance administrator said the lane won't be used anymore.

Meanwhile, some woman in labor, a person with a heart attack, somebody hemorrhaging, or a child in excruciating pain will potentially have to suffer longer until medical help arrives on the scene.

If someone dies because of an ambulance delay, will there be an avoidable lawsuit as a result of the ambulance having access but not using it - or arguably being denied use of it?

Ambulance personnel are going to be equipped with items which will allow them to control the traffic lights during emergency calls. It still won't immediately get them through the stalled traffic which often is situated on the McCall Bridge.

The traffic construction project should end sometime in September. Meanwhile, Weissport officials should call an emergency meeting and issue a statement that ambulances and any other emergency equipment are welcome to use that lane if it is needed.

It's not just potentially saving a life during a medical emergency. It could mean stopping a fire from spreading in one of the rows of homes in the borough. It could make the difference of one of possibly hundreds of dangerous scenarios involving emergency responses.

Using this lane is less dangerous than motorists trying to get out of the way of the siren-blowing vehicle in the backed-up McCall bridge traffic.

If there would be one suggestion, it would be that a police officer be utilized for escorting the emergency vehicle on the two-lanes of traffic the emergency vehicles face once crossing the Weissport bridge.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com