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Roadway safety in New
What’s been happening
More than a year ago, a safety seminar was held that included more than a 100 attendees representing police, fire, and EMS agencies from several counties. As a result of that session, a number of folks began to institute new response guidelines. Our program was created with the assistance of a Virginia safety officer. You see down south they appear to be a little ahead of us folks up here in New Jersey. With bits and pieces of information gathered from across North America, we created an awareness program. We are working to provide a clear message about how to respond and protect emergency workers at highway incidents.
This exposure to danger has included all types of public and private agencies: fire, medical, and law enforcement. The difference is that in New Jersey firefighters sometimes appear to be doing things on their own, without coordination, to secure a scene. Often resulting in bitter feelings between the police and other emergency responders. The issue of role perceptions is also addressed.
For the most part, the Motoring Public understands that they must get from point A to B on a daily basis. Any disruption to their efforts to meet their self-imposed schedule creates frustration, and anger. Technology has worked to provide a number of vehicular gadgets for drivers to use while driving on the road. Sad to say, that while these may add to the diversion or anxiety factor of their commute, these things multiply their danger to responders upon entering the “delay (incident) zone”. Emergency responders are now invading the inner sanctum of the frustrated driver.
Recently, several states and organizations have taken a very proactive posture to develop training programs to formalize what this program offers. Awareness, scene management, and safety for all are at the heart of the program.
So what gives?
Examples of mishaps are provided both in slide and video as the class continues. These examples of apparatus collisions and rollovers only emphasize the importance of driver training and seat belt usage.
So much seems to be taken for granted by emergency workers that they drift into a zone of operational indifference. Bad things will not happen to them. They have been working on the roads of their area for so long that they become complacent. It is for these reasons that we keep reading about injuries and fatalities to responders not even directly involved with an incident. As you perform the tasks that may require tasks (extrication, treatment, extinguishment, draft sites, etc.) to be performed, think about this…WHO or WHAT is protecting YOU?
Don’t wait until the next state approved course comes about. Better yet, don’t wait until someone in your department gets injured on the roadway to start preparing. This applies to every response.
About the author: Robert Edwards Jr., CFO, is a 27-years plus member of the volunteer fire service having served the past 17 years as a chief officer of the Bloomsbury Fire Department in New Jersey. Besides having a computer science degree, he received the Chief Fire Officer Designation in 2001. He also holds New Jersey certifications as a Fire Service Instructor Level II, Incident Management Level II, and a Fire Official/Inspector. As an instructor for Hunterdon County Emergency Services Training Center, he has focused on Incident Command, Hazardous Materials, Leadership, and Roadway Safety training.
Chief Edwards retired in 2001 after 34 years of employment for Johnson & Johnson where amongst information technology duties he was responsible for the implementation and management of an industrial Emergency Response Team. He was also an integral part of the J&J Y2K Worldwide Command Center and its planning activities.