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Editors Column

Celebrating Tens Years of Hard Work

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

We here at took time to commemorate an important event in our history the other day.  It has been ten years since we held our initial fire safety summit at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland.  Our organization has used the product of that meeting (Our Highway Safety White Paper) to tell our story to the fire, police, and EMS world for that decade.

The Cumberland Valley Volunteer Fireman’s Association (CVVFA) has served as the driving force behind our efforts.  They have sponsored our website and the Emergency Response Safety Institute (ERSI) since the very beginnings of our effort. 

Our leaders searched for a way to mark this historic anniversary.  What is the best way to celebrate a task of such importance, which has incidentally consumed a great deal of our time for the last decade?  What can we do to build upon the efforts of our members?  We came to the conclusion that it was time to conduct another highway fire safety summit.  This is just what we did on June 23 and June 23, 2009 in Halfway, Maryland. 

A group of approximately 60 people with interests and responsibilities in the world of highway safety in America came together to assess where we stand with regard to highway safety in 2009 and where we need to be headed for the next decade.  A series of speakers reviewed the efforts of their agencies in the area of addressing the needs of emergency responders on our highways and byways.

We heard presentations on such things as economic development and its impact on the level of highway travel, as well as the development of programs to address the need for safety on the highway.  There was a session on the need for local, county, and state highway safety patrols to find and protect people who are having problems on the road, which can lead to dangerous situations for emergency responders.

We also were privilege to listen to an extremely interesting presentation on the projected growth of traffic on our nation’s highways, and its potential for an impact upon the safety of emergency responders across the whole nation.  Another session reviewed the efforts of the government to study the fatalities which fire, police, EMS, and tow truck operators have experienced.  A number of important issues were covered. 

The assembled group then broke out into a series of discussion groups in order to brainstorm the issues which we believe we will face in the years to come.  After some very interesting discussions, we came to the following conclusions:
1.   The need exists to create better interaction between the fire, police, EMS, Department of Transportation and members of the towing industry.
2.   CVVFA needs to educate all levels of government as to the needs for better highway safety program.
3.   We need to reach out to groups outside of our own world for an improved public safety educational effort. 
4.   We should develop a standard national message regarding the manner in which move-over laws are worded and applied.
5.   There is also a need for finding relationships which will allow us to move outside to begin teaching the public about our needs. 
6.   The need exists to educate all of the response services in the concept of quick, safe, highway clearance after motor vehicle incidents.
7.   The need exists to reach many smaller organizations who have not heard our message for highway safety.
8.   We need to develop model legislation for the creation of training for fire police, deputy sheriffs, and other potential traffic control assistance groups.

We also celebrated the successes which we experienced over the past decade.  Here are some of our primary positive impacts on the fire, police, EMS, Department of Transportation, and towing industry worlds:
1.   We have raised the issue of responder highway safety to a prominent position.
2.   The growth of the website
3.   The development of an ANSI standard for the Public Safety retro-reflective vest which is now the national standard.
4.   A wide range of new training programs.
5.   A cadre of trained instructors to teach our educational courses.
6.   We were successful in having highway safety skills added to the NFPA 1001 Firefighter Professional Qualifications standard.
7.   We were successful in having the vehicle chevron striping requirements added into the NFPA 1901 Standard for Motorized Fire Apparatus.
8.   CVVFA has been extremely successful in increasing our visibility at the major trade shows such as FDIC, Firehouse, and FRI.
9.   We offer a number of CD’s and DVD’s which spreads the message of highway safety across North America.

I want to assure you that there was no hesitation among the folks at this Highway Safety Summit to share their knowledge.  The shared well what they have learned over the years about the issue of safety on the highways and byways of America.  A great many ideas emerged.  It was a truly important event whose impact and concepts will be spread across the board to members of the fire, police, EMS, highway workers, and tow truck operator worlds. 

Let me close by suggesting that we also heard a couple of really neat training slogans which I believe will assist you in presenting the highway safety message to your people It has been my experience that you need a catchy phrase to reach the hearts and minds of your folks.  These which follow may help you to get your message across.

From Jerry Daniels, President of the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Fireman’s Association, we heard the following chestnut.  “When your feet are on the street, your vest is on your chest.”

Virginia Lutz of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) told us all that, “If it’s moving and you are not driving it, it can kill you.”

Finally Harry Carter was heard to say that, “You just cannot cure stupid.”  My friends, I want you to know that this is why we here at have spent the better part of a decade working hard to provide you with those things which can help you train and educate your people.

Maybe you cannot cure stupid, but we can help you to sharpen up the rough edges of a dull mind.  Please stay with us.


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