It has been an honor and a pleasure to share my thoughts with you from time to time here at Respondersafety.com. I have worked to bring you the latest news and information on the latest concepts, ideas, and activities being identified and advocated by the Emergency Response Safety Institute (ERSI) of the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Fireman’s Association (CVVFA). By and large I am working on-line to perform my research, as well as identify those items which should be covered in my Editor’s Column. Such is not the case today.
Sometimes in the course of my work as a volunteer firefighter here in Adelphia, New Jersey I come face-to-face with people and events which I feel must be shared with you. Such is the case in this column. Our fire department was call to the scene of a motor vehicle accident (MVA) on one of our township’s roads. The location of the incident was on a long, fairly reasonable bend in the road, with a slight downward twist. The driver of the vehicle who had the MVA managed to straighten out the curve and smack a utility pole. The force of the crash also did downstream and upstream damage to poles immediately adjacent to the accident.
As the driver on our first-out pumper, I was directed to take a position just west of the incident and stand by. Under the direction of our Captain, the crew donned their retro-reflective vests and proceeded up the road to the incident. At this point my rig was directed to move out of the roadway to a position in a large, private driveway. This I did with the aid of two backup spotters.
It was from this vantage point that I began to see some things that I absolutely needed to share with you. I cannot count the number of times that I have reminded you here on Respondersafety.com that our highways are the second most dangerous place to which you and I respond. I say this with greater emphasis based upon my response to this latest MVA response.
Let me tell you that drivers out there in our great land are some of the most dangerous people with whom we interact. During that recent Saturday response to which I refer, I witnessed some seriously defect driver behavior. At one point our crew was directed to stop traffic shot of the accident and turn it around. Our people took a highway position behind a township police car and used their flash lights to catch the attention of the people approaching the scene. I had the bright forward scene lights from my rig directed on them from the side. They were also wearing our department’s retro-reflective vests.
In the first instance I saw a driver passed around our rig, fly past the police car which was blocking the scene and the roll right up to the spot where the wrecked car was blocking the street. I then saw one driver actually approach our crew in the street, slow down, honk their horn and then swerve to the left in order to go around them. That driver got an ear full of air horn.
The final acts of stupidity came after an off-duty police captain stopped at the scene and proceeded to get some flares from the patrol car. He then set up at flare line up the road about 200 yard west of us. I counted at least a half dozen people who rolled around the flares and then had to be turned around by our troops in the highway. I am not sure whether people these days are just plain stupid, or merely unschooled in the ways of highway safety. Let me be generous at this point and suggest it is the latter.
We here at Respondersafety.com would love to move into the area of training the general public. However, given our fiscal constraints and instructional staffing demands, we have made a conscious decision to work in our target arena. We are going to work as hard as we possibly can to provide education for our police, fire, EMS, and towing industry population.
In order to set the focus for our future, the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Fireman’s Association (CVVFA) will be holding a strategic planning retreat on October 18 at the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute Northeast Regional Training Center near the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County, Maryland. We want to chart a solid course which will allow us to broaden our success and continue to serve our members and the public in general. It is my belief that we will have an extremely productive session.