Special Report by Editor in Chief Dr. Harry Carter- We here at the Emergency Response Safety Institute (ERSI) of the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firefighter's Association (CVVFA) have some really great news to share. The fine folks at the Ohio Turnpike Commission are now airing our "Slow Down - Move Over" public service announcement produced by the Emergency Responder Safety Institute (ERSI) at Service Plazas across the turnpike system.
The decision to offer this educational opportunity to the travelers on the turnpike is the result of a collective decision by a number of critical employees of The Ohio Turnpike Commission. This collaborative decision came about as a result of the dedicated efforts of Mr. Ed Miller, Director of Safety Services, Ms. Lauren Hakos, Public Affairs and Marketing Manager, and Mr. Robert Gahr, Assistant Safety Services Director, through the approval of Mr. Richard Hodges, Executive Director. Their combined expertise in safety and public relations has resulted in an effective means of reaching the public with a critical highway safety message.
They were exposed to our public service announcement (PSA) by the Federal Highway Administration. They were impressed by the quality of our work and the significance of the message being presented. Our PSA was produced with assistance from the United States Fire Administration and the Bureau of Justice Assistance in the US Department of Justice.
The PSA includes members of the Fire and Emergency Services, DOT workers, the Towing and Recovery Industry as well as Law Enforcement Officers from State, County and Municipal Police Departments. In speaking with Ms. Hakos, she was impressed with the impact of the message. Mr. Miller and Mr. Gahr spoke of the importance of having all of the players on the highway response team portrayed in the PSA.
During my interview these fine folks, they laid out the plan of attack for what they hoped to accomplish. They spoke to the importance of:
1. Educating the public
2. Creating a safer working environment for all emergency responders, towers, construction workers, and service employees on the turnpike.
3. The importance of creating an awareness among the public as to their role in highway safety
4. Getting the message to the public
5. Working with service companies who operate on our highways.
6. This as a unique way to notify the public in addition to the "Move-Over Law signs which have been in use since 2002.
The Ohio Turnpike Commission has a deep and abiding level of concern for the safety of all who use the turnpike, work on or along it in a variety of construction projects, or respond to emergencies. In addition, the safety section of the Ohio Turnpike Commission will be conducting a series of training programs with state and local emergency response personnel to improve their awareness of the hazards of operating in a high-speed traffic environment.
Ms. Hakos mentioned that they intend to use our PSA indefinitely. "We can do this," she stated, "because of the fact that we are continually reaching a new audience." Having traveled the length of the Ohio Turnpike on a number of occasions, I am well aware of the impact which their traffic enforcement and roadside signage have had. The results seemed striking to me as I traveled from east to west and from west to east on this well-established toll road.
CVVFA created this PSA with the assistance of Stonehouse Media in Lambertville, New Jersey. The PSA is dedicated to the memory of Firefighter EMT Michelle Smith of the Delaware City DE Fire Company who was struck and killed by a hit and run driver as she aided an accident victim on US 13 in New Castle DE. Many of the responders in the PSA were personal friends of Michelle.
Currently the PSA is being shown in many areas of the nation. The CVVFA is working with the Federal Highway Administration to distribute the "Slow Down - Move Over" PSA throughout the United States. We look forward to building upon the valuable work done by the Ohio Turnpike Commission.
Ohio Turnpike Service Plazas