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Question: (1/2/2012)
From a reader doing research: Does Respondersafety.com have the current statistics on highway struck by incidents? I am having trouble finding any data on who is being hit and how frequently these accident occur.

Answer:

We receive this question several time a month so we asked Director of Training Jack Sullivan who has studied these incident for over 10 years to reply.

Your question is similar to one of the most frequent requests we get – statistics. I’ll tell you right up front I can’t answer your specific question. I don’t think anyone can. Too many variables with roadway operations to determine which if any of the injuries or LODDs were prevented or affected in any way by the use of high visibility vests. There is another phenomenon that has developed in that same time frame that has had a significant impact too – very distracted drivers. The distracted drivers can’t see us no matter what we’re wearing if they aren’t looking at the road. And the sad reality is that a lot of drivers are not looking at the road (or emergency responders!) all the time.

There are statistics out there but our main problem is that there is no uniform effort to collect and differentiate “struck-by-vehicle” crashes involving emergency responders. We include all traffic incident responders in our efforts which typically include Fire, EMS, Law Enforcement, Transportation, and Towing & Recovery personnel. For transportation personnel we are interested in pulling out those crashes that apply to traffic incident responders (i.e. safety service patrols, motorist assistants, and the like) and not “work zone” incidents or construction related incidents. We also include crossing guards and people performing traffic control at large planned events.

Frankly when I’m training I get more of a positive reaction from students by relating stories of specific incidents than from reciting slides full of statistics. I get requests from instructors all the time looking for stats. I think it’s in the instructor bible that you must load a slide, or two (or more!) of statistics into every training program. Few students remember the statistics – almost all will remember a good relevant story about real events directly related to something they do every day. Start the training with a story or two and they are “hooked”. Start them with slides full of numbers and they are easily distracted.

Here are some statistics we do have that you might find useful:

In 2005 NIOSH reported 390 workers of all occupations were struck and killed by vehicles on roadways. That number was up from the 378 fatalities reported in 2004. NIOSH also reports that there was an average of 365 struck-by-vehicle incidents per year from 2000 to 2004 and that struck-by incidents account for 7% of all fatal occupational injuries. (Source - http://www.bls.gov/news.release/history/cfoi_08102006.txt)

A 2001 NIOSH report indicated 26 firefighters were struck and killed between 1990 and 1999 which at that time represented an 89% increase in those types of fatalities from 1995 to 2000. An NFPA report indicated that 36 firefighters were struck and killed by vehicles from 1989 to 1998.

(Source - http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2001-143/)

I have attached three different NFPA reports with related information and stats for the fire service. One is recent and specific to fire-police officers.

A 2001 NIOSH report indicated 26 firefighters were struck and killed between 1990 and 1999 which at that time represented an 89% increase in those types of fatalities from 1995 to 2000. An NFPA report indicated that 36 firefighters were struck and killed by vehicles from 1989 to 1998.

(Source - http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2001-143/)

I have attached three different NFPA reports with related information and stats for the fire service. One is recent and specific to fire-police officers.

I have 6 LODD for fire and EMS personnel in 2008 that we tracked.

I have 3 LODD for Fire and EMS in 2009 that we tracked.

I have 5 LODD for Fire & EMS in 2010 that we tracked.

I have 2 LODD for Fire & EMS here in the US so far for 2011 and we also recorded a member of the military fire service who was struck and killed by fire apparatus earlier this year in Okinawa.

Please remember there have been dozens of struck by vehicle incidents each year with injuries (including serious disabling injuries like amputations) and property damage but that’s what we have for LODDs. I have recorded 78 “incidents” so far where firefighters, EMS personnel and/or their vehicles were struck by other vehicles this year (2011).

You can obtain police-officer-specific data on LODD from struck-by incidents here: http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm#leoka

According to those FBI reports from 1998 – 2007 there were 124 PD Officer LODD from struck-by incidents.

Updated table through 2009 available here: http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/killed/2009/data/table_61.html

Law Enforcement Officers Accidentally Killed - Circumstance at Scene of Incident, 2000–2009

Law Enforcement Officers Accidentally Killed Circumstance at Scene of Incident, 1998–2007 Struck by vehicles - Total = 124

- Traffic stop, roadblock, etc. = 50 Line of Duty Deaths

- Directing traffic, assisting motorist, etc. = 74 Line of Duty Deaths

The Officer Down Memorial Page – 2010 – Struck by Vehicle LODDs (7)

http://www.odmp.org/search.php?searching=1&yearfrom=2010&yearto=2010&cause=26

The Officer Down Memorial Page – 2010 –Vehicular Assault LODDs (13)

http://www.odmp.org/search.php?searching=1&yearfrom=2010&yearto=2010&cause=31

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund - LODDs http://www.nleomf.org/facts/officer-fatalities-data/causes.html

2000-2009 LODDs – Struck by Vehicle – 154 total

2009 LODDs - Struck by Vehicle = 10

We do not have good numbers for EMS-only personnel or towing and recovery personnel other than those incidents we report throughout the year. There are efforts to start collecting struck-by stats in those two industries but none are complete yet. We hope they will become more accurate with time. Our main problem is lack of accurate and relevant numbers directly related to our mission. And we haven’t even mentioned “injuries” or “close calls”! How do we capture that information in a consistent manner across all disciplines?

Since I wrote this originally in September, we were notified that the Transportation Research Board (TRB) has allocated funding to establish the framework for a National Near-Miss/Struck-by Vehicle Database project. That’s excellent news and it will accomplish what we have been struggling to do with a small group of volunteers for the last 10 years+. I expect it will take at least a year before the project is complete. It’s still progress. 

Jack Sullivan, CSP, CFPS Director of Training, Emergency Responder Safety Institute

Respondersafety.com receives many requests for information. We attempt to promptly respond personally to every authenticated email. When we receive excellent questions of a general nature such as this, we will publish our response. The CVVFA Emergency Responder Safety Institute provides what we believe are the current and emerging best practices for emergency responders operating on the highways. These are our opinions. We do not provide legal advice. We urge our readers to check applicable local laws, rules and regulations. We also encourage those with differing viewpoints to contact us.

Steve Austin Project Manger ResponderSafety.com

Question: (7/1/2011)
From a Police Officer in Louisiana: I read in some of the materials that law enforcement can have blue vests but I can’t find anything that shows it. Can you verify if Law Enforcement can have blue cloth or blue anywhere, etc? Can you send me a picture of a vest with blue in it that is approved? Is there a resource where they can be purchased? We currently have blue cloth reflective vests and I am just not sure if they still compliant.

Answer:

The blue cloth background is not compliant due to the conspicuity (a scientific term meaning how well the material can be seen). Only fluorescent orange, fluorescent red and florescent lime yellow have the background conspicuity to meet the standard.

The best way to determine a garment is compliant is to look for the ANSI label. To meet the standard the garment must be labeled ANSI 107-2004 Class II or III. The other option is ANSI 207-2006 Public Safety Vest. A garment without a label is never a compliant garment.

Reflexite, a firm that manufactures retro-reflective products is working on adding a blue color to their vest striping material. Reflexite does not manufacture vests but is a supplier to many manufactures. We have several prototypes of these vests and the blue is noticeable. We would suggest that you call Tom Flaherty at Reflexite (800) 654-7570 or contact them via their website http://www.reflexite.us/ . Mr. Flaherty can give you the latest information about their new striping material and if it is compliant. If so he will have a list of the manufactures who are using the product. To see a vest with a sample go to the Splash Photo on Refexite's Home Page.

We realize the law enforcement cultural issues involving the wearing of high visibility vests. That’s why we produced the video Courage to Be Visible that appears on our home page and can be downloaded for local use. We were saddened to report that officer struck by deaths increased again this year. Our readers know each day we report on officers that are struck. As emergency responders ourselves we are very concerned about officer safety. Often we are on scene wearing compliant garments and our brothers and sisters in blue are almost invisible to oncoming traffic. High visibility garments can reduce these needless deaths and injuries.

Respondersafety.com receives many requests for information. We attempt to promptly respond personally to every authenticated email. When we receive excellent questions of a general nature such as this, we will publish our response. The CVVFA Emergency Responder Safety Institute provides what we believe are the current and emerging best practices for emergency responders operating on the highways. These are our opinions. We do not provide legal advice. We urge our readers to check applicable local laws, rules and regulations. We also encourage those with differing viewpoints to contact us.

Steve Austin
Project Manger
ResponderSafety.com

Question: (6/11/2008)
During a recent review of our fire apparatus driver/operators, the question was asked regarding the use of the directional arrow mounted on the rear of apparatus. The one consistent answer to the question was, once they arrive at the emergency scene the arrow is to be used for directing traffic away from personnel working on the scene. After that as you can imaging the answers were all over the board as to how they are to be used. What’s the scoop?

Answer:

Flashing arrow devices are very useful for controlling traffic when installed and used correctly. Flashing arrow boards and signs are an integral part of both temporary and long-term roadway work zones. Some states have specific guidelines or laws that apply to work zone arrow devices and some states have laws about color for various types of mobile lighting including emergency lights. Arrow devices that are typically found on fire apparatus (i.e. arrow sticks) are not sufficient in size to provide proper traffic control and guidance by themselves at incident scenes. Some FDs have experimented with larger arrow boards typically found in construction work zones. They are difficult to mount on fire apparatus and usually create some operation challenges for the truck equipment.

Start by checking with your state police to find out if there are any specific laws in your state regarding arrow devices on fire apparatus (or any other type of vehicle).  NFPA 1901 allows for amber warning devices on the rear of trucks but does not specify that they have to be used. That means that as far as NFPA is concerned you can mount/install arrow warning devices on fire apparatus (NFPA 1901 – Chapter 13).  The bigger, the better! Some FDs have been experimenting with arrow devices mounted on the side of the truck so that when it is parked at an angle at an incident, it is more visible to oncoming traffic. I happen to think that is a good idea. See attached photos. Also, arrows should be mounted as high as possible (preferably above hose bed level) for more clear visibility especially when actively involved with laying lines and pulling attack lines. (see photo in the respondersafety.com gallery as example) Arrow sticks mounted below hose beds are often obstructed by tarps or hose from the bed.  

As for operation, I strongly suggest that the devices not be activated unless they are being used for traffic control at an incident. In reality, every fire truck or ambulance I see here in VA that has an arrow device has it blinking randomly at all times. That simply helps to desensitize the driving public to the intended use of the arrows. They become just another blinking light on a fire truck and they are not perceived as a traffic control device. Add to that problem the fact that many FDs do not activate the arrow device properly on scene to route traffic around the scene. There is no national law or standard that requires the arrows to flash all the time as many seem to think. The problem is that most manufacturers ship the apparatus with the arrow device programmed to flash continually. That can be changed and should be. Arrows should be OFF at all times except when directing traffic at an incident is the preferred option. At the scene, the arrow device should be activated to move traffic right or left as needed.

Finally, some fire dept’s in about 22 states have “fire-police” who specialize in traffic and crowd control at emergency scenes. Some of these departments have started to equip their fire police units with pretty sophisticated trucks equipped with all types of traffic control equipment including larger arrow devices (see photo in the respondersafety.com gallery as example). I’m not sure if Illinois has fire police but if they do, that is another angle you might want to investigate.

Hope that helps!

Jack Sullivan, CSP, CFPS
Director of Training CVVFA Emergency Responder Safety Institute
E-Mail: JSullivan@LCInnovations.com

Click to see Jack’s Photos referenced in his answer Respondersafety.com Gallery

Respondersafety.com receives many requests for information. We attempt to promptly respond personally to every authenticated email. When we receive excellent questions of a general nature such as this, we will publish our response. The CVVFA Emergency Responder Safety Institute provides what we believe are the current and emerging best practices for emergency responders operating on the highways. These are our opinions. We do not provide legal advice. We urge our readers to check applicable local laws, rules and regulations. We also encourage those with differing viewpoints to contact us.

Steve Austin
Project Manger
ResponderSafety.com

Question: (5/8/2008)
Our agency has looked at the new Federal Rule for High Visibility Garments that requires emergency responders on federal funded highways to wear high visibility clothing beginning in November of 2008. We want to purchase the new ANSI Public Safety Vests with break-a-way features but don't see them referenced in the rule. Why not?

Answer:

The CVVFA Emergency Responder Safety Institute led the battle to design a vest that meets the needs of public safety responders while maintaining the characteristics required to be visible on the roadway. The Federal Rule was issued only days prior to the issuance of ANSI 207, 2006 Public Safety Vest standard. We immediately began working with the National Traffic Incident Management Coalition, the Safety Health and Survival Section of the International Association of Fire Chiefs and other interested parties to have the rule modified prior to the effective date of November 24, 2008. We have received a letter from the Federal Highway Administration indicating that they are opening comment to include Public Safety Vests in the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) which is more authoritative than the Federal Rule. Copies of our letter and the reply may be found in the NEWS section of Respondersafety.com. We are confident the inclusion of the PS Vests in the MUTCD will occur prior to the federal rule's effective date. We recommend that agencies purchase Public Safety Vests with five point, but no less than 4 point break-a-way features.

Respondersafety.com receives many requests for information. We attempt to promptly respond personally to every authenticated email. When we receive excellent questions of a general nature such as this, we will publish our response. The CVVFA Emergency Responder Safety Institute provides what we believe are the current and emerging best practices for emergency responders operating on the highways. These are our opinions. We do not provide legal advice. We urge our readers to check applicable local laws, rules and regulations. We also encourage those with differing view points to contact us.

Steve Austin
Project Manger
Respondersafety.com

Question: (5/4/2008)
If you are so close to a moving object that it catches your vest the break-a-way is not going to do anything for you.  Maybe I am thick and slow but someone is going to explain this real slow so I can understand the safety issues.  Are we concerned about someone assaulting the public official and grabbing the vest?  What does the break-a-way parts protect us from? Will the NFPA add break-a-way to turnouts and EMS uniforms?  I understand break-a-way ties, and break-a-way Sam brownie belts on police uniforms.

Answer:

Here's the logic for break-a-way Velcro seams: If a mirror or other extended object  on a moving vehicle brushes a public safety worker, the object could get entangled in the vest and could drag the responder down the highway. This is a hazard in operating in moving traffic. In addition:    

If the garment is not full break-a-way the responder could be spun around throwing him/her under the wheels at the worst or on the ground at best.

A combative person would have more difficulty  wrestling a law enforcement officer to the ground as the vest would come apart.

We have no knowledge of any other proposal for break-a-way garments in the fire service or law enforcement except for high visibility ANSI vests. By the way, break-a-ways have been an option on other ANSI vests for sometime under the 107 High Visibility Garment Standard. Thanks for asking our opinion and when it comes to safety there are no “dumb” questions.

Respondersafety.com receives many requests for information. We attempt to promptly respond personally to every authenticated email. When we receive excellent questions of a general nature such as this, we will publish our response. The CVVFA Emergency Responder Safety Institute provides what we believe are the current and emerging best practices for emergency responders operating on the highways. These are our opinions. We do not provide legal advice. We urge our readers to check applicable local laws, rules and regulations. We also encourage those with differing view points to contact us.

Steve Austin
Project Manger
Respondersafety.com

Question: (5/3/2008)
I am a manufacturer's rep. A number of my customers are confused about the transition to the new Public Safety Vests. Can you clear up some of the issues?

Answer:

The CVVFA Emergency Responder Safety Institute (ESRI) is carefully monitoring activity regarding the now released ISEA Draft for the ANSI 207 Public Safety Vest.

We are respecting the International Safety Equipment Association’s (ISEA) wishes and will not publish the draft on our web site.

We have in our possession prototypes of the new public safety vests produced by manufactures to meet the proposed standard. Respondersafety.com believes the new standard will be very similar to the draft proposal. Nothing is for sure until the standard is published, which we expect will take place in the summer of 2006.

Our general review of the draft standard is favorable except for Chapter 6, Optional Features, that lists Tear Away as "should" be used. The ESRI will propose that this language be deleted from Chapter 6 and replaced by a new paragraph in Chapter 5 Design stating “Tear Away shall be used when applicable”. It is our position that Tear Away is an integral part of a Public Safety Vest. Consumers who want sewn shoulders and other type of permanent fasteners already have the option to purchase a Class II or III garment.

Respondersafety.com also is concerned with the confusion with the pre 1999 Class III garment standard that was once referenced in the old edition of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices. The current edition of the manual does not relate the Class of garment to the posted speed of the highway. We recommend that Public Safety Agencies select either a Public Safety or Class II vest for all roadway responses.

Finally ERSI is closely monitoring the Federal Highway Administration Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Worker Visibility. This rule suggests that all workers including emergency responders on US Federal Aid Highways must wear high visibility garments while performing their duties. The proposed rule which is now open for public comment until (July 7, 2006) references Class II and Class III garments. ERSI is submitting a comment to reference Public Safety Vests in addition to Class II and III. We are confident that our proposal will be accepted. However we are not sure if and when the final rule will be issued.

Respondersafety.com receives many requests for information. We attempt to promptly respond personally to every authenticated email. When we receive excellent questions of a general nature such as this, we will publish our response. The CVVFA Emergency Responder Safety Institute provides what we believe are the current and emerging best practices for emergency responders operating on the highways. These are our opinions. We do not provide legal advice. We urge our readers to check applicable local laws, rules and regulations. We also encourage those with differing view points to contact us.

Steve Austin
Project Manger
Respondersafety.com

Question: (5/2/2008)
Can I ask you...where did you get your lane numbering system from, or how did you come to that system? Did it come from the DOT? Please fill me in.I am from Jersey...up north. We are in the process of developing hyway sop's and are using information gathered from you, using your sop's from respondersafety.com as our starting point. Believe it or not, there is some debate on using your lane numbering system. Apparently, a group in south Jersey is using a different lane numbering system. NOW...the state police somehow got involved and want us to use the Souths lane designation system.(sounds like the civil war doesn't it?) Can I ask you...where did you get that lane designation system from, or how did you come to that system? Did it come from the DOT? Please fill me in. Any other organizations adopt it? (NFPA, NIOSH,etc) How about any other states adopt that lane designation system?? Any additional background or references would be helpful. I personally like it and think it is simple to remember and use. I am trying to convince them to use what you talk about, from the drivers right to left, point of view.

Answer:

Go with what the cops want in this case. There is no National standard. There are no regulations or requirements. DOT doesn't care or even acknowledge lane numbering. My suggestion is to come up with a standardized identification system that is agreed upon and used by the responder agencies. For you, I'd suggest going with the Troopers. You can operate with their recommendation and it's really not worth a fight on this. Pick your battles and hold the line on something that is more important at a later date. This is just something that has to be dealt with now and it's small potatoes. In my city, we do right lane (1) to far left lane (3 or 4) and everyone agrees; FD, PD, DOT, even our mutual aid companies, so it works for us here. But it doesn't really matter so long as everyone involved agrees upon whatever you decide.

A Fire Chief in Kansas died when he was standing at the rear of his Suburban directing the arriving engine where to park at a highway crash scene. The brakes failed and the engine crushed him between its front end and the rear of his vehicle. With standardized lane numbering, he could have maintained a safe position away from the vehicles and simply radioed to the arriving officer, "Command to Engine 1...Position Upstream... in Lane 1" and that would have been the end of that.

Respondersafety.com receives many requests for information. We attempt to promptly respond personally to every authenticated email. When we receive excellent questions of a general nature such as this, we will publish our response. The CVVFA Emergency Responder Safety Institute provides what we believe are the current and emerging best practices for emergency responders operating on the highways. These are our opinions. We do not provide legal advice. We urge our readers to check applicable local laws, rules and regulations. We also encourage those with differing view points to contact us.

Steve Austin
Project Manger
Respondersafety.com

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