On The Highway We've Got Your Back

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ResponderSafety.com is brought to you by the Emergency Responder Safety Institute. ResponderSafety.com is developed and supported by public safety leaders nationwide. Click here to read Mission...

Editors Column

Winter Is Here

Sunday, January 05, 2003

The holidays are behind us and a new year is now underway. It is once again time to take stock of where we are, and where we need to head. Sadly, our mission remains necessary. Over the past few weeks, a number of police and fire people have been killed and injured on the highways of North America.

The following incidents happened that impacted our cause, but the media outlets never got back to me with permission to use their reports:

    • Wellesley, Massachusetts firefighter was struck by a car
    • A Long Island police officer was struck by a sliding tractor trailer on the Long Island Expressway
    • A New Jersey State Trooper was struck and killed by a tractor trailer while on highway safety duty at Exit 12 in Carteret
    • A Georgia police officer was struck and killed on Interstate 285
    • Philadelphia police officer struck and injured by motor vehicle after heroically pushing civilians out of the way
    • New York State trooper killed when his cruiser was struck from behind and exploded
    • U.S. Air Force security policeman struck and killed by a car skidding on the ice up in Alaska
    • Five firefighters were killed by a speeding motor vehicle in France

On and on it goes. I guess we have to work quite a bit harder to get our message out. There is also the educational component for the people cruising down the highways and byways without a thought in the world about us.

Our work is being hinder by the fact that we have to obey all appropriate laws regarding the use of media outlets. My work at seeking permission to have these incidents reported on our website remains the most challenging and frustrating aspect of my work as your editor. I have mentioned this before, but it still bothers me deeply. I have a standard email message that goes out each time I am informed of a serious incident, a near miss, or a fatality. It is one thing to receive a negative reply. I do not like them, but at least I can understand them.

What continues to distress me is the plethora of media outlets that lack the common decency to acknowledge my request. That really galls me. My parents always taught me to be polite. Common decency would suggest that people should reply to other people.

Enough negativity. It is time to say thank you to a number of people who have labored hard in the vineyards of highway safety. My first round of applause goes to James Garcia of South Carolina. The victim of a serious highway incident in 1994, James launched a campaign to create a law that protects emergency responders on the highways of that southern state. It is particularly ironic that when he was struck out on the highway, we was listed as being at fault, since EMS workers were considered pedestrians, with no protection under the laws that existed at that time. He has done a masterful job of creating, pushing, and seeing successful enactment of a law to protect public safety workers in his state. Here is the link to a full text version of the law.

http://www.musc.edu/meducare/garciajd

We in New Jersey can also point with pride to a local son who is really working hard to create a greater awareness of highway safety issues in our state. Retired Fire Chief Bob Edwards of Bloomsbury has literally haunted the hallowed halls of our state capitol in Trenton. His efforts have convinced his legislators to work with him. As a result of his efforts, a task force is being convened in Trenton in January to study this matter. In the interim, the legislation that was introduced last year is now on hold.

In Bob's email to me he stated that, " …A meeting (to be scheduled for mid-January) is to be held that shall include the who's who of emergency response in this state. Simply put the DHS shall request Division of Fire Safety, NJSP, Police Chiefs Association, First Aid Council, DOH, NJDOT, NHDOT, and whomever else he thinks should be included. I am the catalyst (oh boy) with the message of Responder Safety."

It is nice to have a forceful advocate out there working for us in New Jersey. We must express our deepest gratitude to James and Bob. They are a true demonstration of difference that one dedicated person can make.

Lastly, the folks at Respondersafety.com and the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Fireman's Association want to send our sincerest congratulations to Ron Moore of Plano, Texas. Ron is our resident guru on highway safety SOP's and safety training. Ron has just had the second edition of his highly successful text Vehicle Rescue and Extrication published by the Mosby Publishing Company. Of particular note is information on highway safety that Ron has added to his safety chapter. Congratulations.

Here's hoping that in 2003 we see a reduction in the highway safety death and injury rate. If each of us tries just a little harder, we can do good things. Have a safe and Happy New Year.

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