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Editors Column

We’re Facing an Epidemic

Monday, March 11, 2019

As we enter the third month of 2019, I would like to share an alarming fact with you.  As of this date we have had 13 members of our user community killed in Struck-By incidents across the United States.  7 of these deaths were in the towing industry.  And the number of struck-by incidents involving our fire, police, EMS, and towing industry partners is in the hundreds.  In Connecticut alone there were 29 incidents involving the State Police. In Michigan there were 34 incidents involving the State Police there.

What in the world is going wrong?  While the answer might seem easy to explain, there are many parts to the problem.  The weather in the colder areas of our nation has been quite rocky this year.  Snow, rain, ice, sleet, and wind have been very bad.  I know that a number of problems have happened in my own state of New Jersey.

It seems to me that people have seemingly lost their ability to drive in snowy conditions.  Others think that have four-wheel drive vehicles allows them to speed through the snow and over the ice.  I am sorry to say my friends that such is not the case.  Thanks to a number of videos which have been shared on Facebook, numerous instances of outright terrible driving have been shown.

Here is where our people out on the highways are at the confluence of three different problem areas.  Our distracted drivers are out there doing their dangerous thing, regardless of the weather.  People are speeding when they should be driving carefully.  People are just not paying attention to us as we perform our tasks out on the highways and by-ways.

They are ignoring all of our efforts to protect the areas where we are working.  Our death and injury toll would possibly be higher were it not for our efforts to block the highways, cone them out, and use a variety of signs and warning devices.  It is though distracted drivers are being drawn to our vehicles like the proverbial moth to the flame. 

As I write this column, I am thinking about the weather reports being put out by CNN, Fox News, and the Weather Channel.  They are speaking about feet of snow in the mountains of California, and more feet of snow in the northern part of the Midwest.  It is not enough that people are not paying attention to us on the clear, sunny roads of Florida; but when you add in the whiteout conditions of blizzards and icy roads, the results are always going to be predictably bad.

Let me suggest that all of us need to improve our highway safety skills.  We need to conduct more frequent drills and training sessions which stress the proper ways for operating on the roads and highways in our respective districts.  To this end I am going to strongly recommend that we all go to the ResponderSafety Learning Network.

You can sign in to the Learning Network on our home page. There are a wide range of on-line courses which will equip you with the skills and knowledge which you can apply to your organizational operations. 

I have spent a number of hours completing coursework toward my Nations Traffic Incident Management certificate.  I can assure you that I intend to share this information with my fellow fire personnel in Adelphia. 

Please do all that you can to provide the necessary training to your department’s personnel.  There will always be incidents out on the highways and byways of our nation.  Please be ready for that next traffic incident. 

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