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Editors Column

The Sun is Shining and the Highways are Getting Busy

Sunday, May 24, 2009

It seems like my favorite season of the year has finally arrived.  I really love the spring and the fine warm weather it brings each year.  The first real sign of the season began to arrive in our neighborhoods a couple of weeks ago.  As you may have noted, the price of a gallon of gas has begun its annual upward spiral. It seems like the price of gasoline is tied to the temperature.  They go up together.


Of course the price of gasoline will not stop the people who want to hit the road.  As the weather gets better, more people seemingly want to rush out and take advantage of the highways and by-ways of our great nation.  Unfortunately, something really dangerous comes along with this increase in traffic. 


While this movement of people may be provide a great boost for many parts of our economy, it takes on a whole different meaning for you and me; the people who operate our emergency equipment out there in the second most dangerous operational location in the world: the highway.  It means that there are more cars that have a shot at hitting us as we go about our lifesaving duties.


As a regular reader of our website, you are well aware of our continuing efforts to make things a bit safer out there.  One of my favorite topics involves the use of the public safety vest by members of the police, fire, EMS, and tow truck driver's communities.  A number of us have labored mightily to get the proper legislation in place which mandates the use of these retro-reflective vests when we operate on the highways of our response districts.


Let me share a success story with you.  On Tuesday morning May 19, my fire company (Station 19-2 in Howell Township, New Jersey) was dispatched to a reported motor vehicle accident.  I responded to the fire station, donned my highway safety vest (the one that says on the back) and climbed behind the steering wheel of our first-out pumper.


Upon arrival at the accident scene I parked the pumper out of the way and set the brakes. I then climbed down to chock the rear wheels and went over to see what my chief needed.  Imagine how great I felt to see all of our Adelphia fighters wearing their highway safety vests.  The same held true for our local police department.  Even the tow truck driver was turned out in his highway safety vest. 

Wow, was it ever great to see such a safety-compliant sight.


I called Steve Austin on my cell phone to let him know of the good news.  He was pleased to hear of our success story.  Of course I had to be completely honest with my friend and Brother Mason.  The first aid squad did not have any safety vests.  They are from a separate, third-service organization.  I mentioned this to my assistant chief and he stated that he would have a word with them later.


My friends, I am from that old school which tells us that sometimes it is better to have half a loaf than not at all.  This incident brought that home to me. It showed that we are better off than we were, but that a great deal of work still lies ahead if we are to reach our highway safety goals.


We will be working in my area to secure complete compliance with the proper ways of operating on the highways of Howell Township.  They key in situations like this is to be patient and persistent.  Like my pastor, Scott Brown has told me, a kind word will turn away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  That is from Proverbs if you care to check.  So there will be reasonable talk.  There will be no yelling or threats.  That would be counterproductive. 


So it is as we move into the holiday season. Some people have gotten the word and are working to be safe, while others have not.  Given that patience and persistence are lauded as great virtues, I shall push on and keep up the battle.  I would urge you all to join with us here at the Emergency Response Training Institute and to do all within your power to help your folks be as safe as possible,


Memorial Day is more than just another three-day holiday.  Please join with me in remembering the men and woman who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation.  That is, after all, the true meaning of Memorial Day. God Bless America.




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