Firefighters cruise around traffic jams

To beat gridlock, the Los Angeles Fire Department is jumping on motorbikes

Los Angeles is home to some of America’s worst gridlock.

Last year’s 53-hour closure of Interstate 405 was dubbed “Carmageddon” by L.A. residents—a name they revived again last month when Carmageddon 2 shut down another section of the highway.

With bad traffic comes slower emergency response times because firefighters are as much victims of gridlock as anyone else. Unless, that is, they’re not in their trucks.

To avoid delayed rescue response times, the Los Angeles Fire Department has deployed its first ever motorcycle response team, a five-person unit outfitted with a fire extinguisher, defibrillator, medical supplies, and more importantly, the ability to weave in and out of idled cars.

Even though they didn’t need to put out any fires or resuscitate anyone during either last year’s Carmageddon or this year’s sequel (they were deployed and ready for action once again), the unit got an opportunity to prove itself in September when a 70-acre brush fire—one of dozens plaguing the major metropolis this year—brought traffic to a grinding standstill on the 405. According to the Los Angeles Times, the motorcycle unit “reached the command post within minutes—even before helicopters could reach the site.”