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Editors Column

Time to be Vigilant

Saturday, July 4, 2015

I was reminded again the other evening of the need for all emergency response people to remain vigilant when they are operating at the scene of an emergency. As is my way, I was out on the front porch enjoying a mild summer’s evening, along with one of my favorite cigars, when the pager on my belt came to life, informing me of an emergency call for the Adelphia Fire Company. Imagine my surprise when the dispatcher gave out an address which was right across the street from my home.

As I glanced across the street it was fairly obvious that the offices of the engineering firm were not bathed in smoke and flames. Rather than take a ride up the street to driver the first-due pumper, I decided to take a stroll across the street. My first mistake was not retrieving my retro-reflective vest from my Yukon XL. My second was forgetting how hard it is to cross the road in front of my home; the busy Monmouth County Route 524.

After taking a 360 around the building and meeting some of the building’s occupants, I determined that there was nothing happening. It was at that point that I met the first-due pumper and gave my report to the Ex-Chief who was setting up command. Since he is a more recent Ex-Chief than I made my report and stepped back.

It was at this point that I noticed the amount of traffic congestion which our fire truck was causing. Route 524 is a two-line road, and with our fire truck parked on the curb, it was suddenly a one-lane operation. It was with a great deal of pride that I noted two of our members, outfitted with our retro-reflective vest, directing the traffic according to our fire company procedures.

It always amazes me how quickly people lose their patience when there is a sudden problem on the road in front of them. There was quite a bit on horn honking and verbal interplay with the passing motorists. In very short order the driver of the pumper backed the unit into the far driveway of the facility; guided by two faithful back-up people. That seemed to quiet things down. At this point I made my way back across the street, assisted in this effort by the Howell Township police officer (who was also wearing a retro-reflective vest) who had assumed traffic control duties.

My friends, this is just one small snapshot of what is happening all across America on any given day. If my work here for has taught me one thing, it is this. There is always more to be done in the area of highway safety. Our Learning Network is be used by an ever-increasing number of fire, police, EMS, and towing industry people.

When I think back to the time in the late 1990’s when almost nothing was being done about the issue of highway scene safety, I am truly heartened by the efforts of our band of fellow travelers. But having said that, I must come back to reality and stress the need for us all to redouble our efforts.

I am still posting the struck-by incidents and LODD incidents for our associates in the fire, police, EMS, and towing worlds. As I drive down the highways and by-ways of the region where I live, the passing motorists are only too happy to provide me with examples of the dangerous behaviors against which you and I must spent great time preparing. Drivers do not seem to be getting better. Let me suggest that just the opposite seems to be happening.

Let me suggest that on that faraway day when we think that we have taught every member of the fire service, police, EMS, and towing industry that we will still have an awesome task ahead of us. We will have to begin teaching the people who are looking to hit us with their vehicles how to avoid that unwanted behavior.

My friends, train hard and work smart out there on the highways and byways of your operational areas. Do not do it for me, but rather for your family. They will love you for it.

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