MOTORISTS are being urged to park more responsibly after emergency services struggled to get down a street to rescue an elderly woman.

Vehicles parked along narrow terraced streets in Crook town centre are causing accessibility problems – an issue highlighted by County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service following an incident last week.

Crook on-call crew were called to Gladstone Street last Monday afternoon to release an 87-year-old woman trapped in the passenger side of a car.

Firefighters used a casualty strap to help her from the car and she was taken to hospital by ambulance for a check-up.

A brigade spokesperson said the response was made difficult when the crew tried to drive down the street but 'inconsiderate parking' meant they were unable to pass and were forced to find an alternative route.

Phil Innis, group manager for emergency response, said: “Across County Durham and Darlington we have seen instances, especially in built up areas, where cars are parked in a way which prevents our fire engines from passing through, often resulting in the crew having to re-route.

“In instances where we are out engaging with the community it isn’t so much of a problem, however if crews are responding to an emergency, delays we experience are also faced by those waiting for our help which could be life threatening.

“We would strongly encourage members of the public to think when parking their car, could a fire engine get through? If not, although we appreciate it may involve parking a little further away from your property, we ask that people park with consideration to other road users, especially allowing access for emergency vehicles and to also consider how it would feel if the emergency services were delayed to them due to a parked car.”

Durham County Councillor for Crook, Patricia Jopling said: “This is an issue being dealt with, we have been looking into parking for some time and there will be parking restrictions all around Crook very shortly.”

Councillor Anne Reed said: “Vehicles are parked on both sides of this narrow street on a regular basis throughout the day and night.

“The houses were built at a time when very few people owned a car and so the street is quite narrow as is the pavement.

“When cars are parked close to the kerb on both sides there is usually enough room to enable a car to pass through.

“However, in the past couple of years there have been larger vehicles such as a van and even a bus parking in the street which causes a great deal of frustration to both residents, pedestrians and other road users.

“There are alternative routes for example the adjacent street is Grey Street which has a much wider road however, if an ambulance or in this case a fire engine needed to attend a certain address in Gladstone Street then there are difficulties.”