Dr. Harry Carter
Dr. Harry Carter
Editors Column- Wednesday, Jan, 5, 2005

The Year in Review

Thanks to you, our readers, we see signs that many public safety agencies are seriously addressing the safety of their personnel working on the nation's highways. Unfortunately, we are still experiencing far too many accidents involving emergency responders.

When the final totals are in from our scans across the country, Jack Sullivan will prepare his annual report. There is now better reporting of incidents then in the past, and we have also improved our information gathering capacity; as a result, we anticipate Jack's report will reveal that the nation's highways and roadways are still very dangerous places to operate, in fact, perhaps more dangerous then even we previously estimated.

Here at the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firemen's Association (CVVFA) we are honored to have sponsored the Emergency Responders Safety Institute (ERSI) for another year. If you are new to our page, the ERSI is a committee of the CVVFA, a 104- year old fire service mutual aid organization. Thanks to support from our volunteers in both the career and volunteer fire service, we have been able to provide a clearinghouse of information that our readers can use to make things safer out there.

The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Transportation again have funded a portion of what we do, allowing us to provide the free materials and services that we deliver. We do this with along with a partnership of a number of supporting private sector businesses which provide much needed financial support to supplement our federal funding.

Among our operational partners are the major fire service organizations including the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF). Last year, we took some important steps with the NFFF. First and foremost we helped craft the Line of Duty Death Prevention Initiatives that the Foundation has launched nationally. The new slogan "Everybody Goes Home" is part and parcel of our very existence. Second, we entered into a cooperative agreement with the NFFF to handle our fulfillment center operations, which distributes our DVDs, and other public offerings. We know that during the first part of 2004, many of you experienced frustration in attempting to order your free products. Thanks to the hard work of Firehouse.com, which powers our website, and the NFFF, we have now shipped all our orders. Stand by in the coming months for some new and exciting products that you can use in your operation.

We finished our role in the Emergency Vehicle Driving Initiative sponsored by the US Fire Administration. If you have not obtained a copy of that impressive report, you may do so at the USFA web site.

We are playing a role with our highway partners on the leadership team of the newly formed National Traffic Incident Management Coalition. We are excited about this high level group of first responders and highway managers who are truly committed to making our highways run smoothly and safely. When we visit with you at trade shows across the country, many of you have told us that you are frustrated by the lack of cooperation between agencies during roadway operations. We agree with you fully, and are sharing your concerns with the top state and federal highway administrators in the country. We see great things coming from this partnership in the coming years.

Research and development is playing a crucial role in all that we do. We recognized in our White Paper (available as a download from this site) that technology could play a big part in improving safety. Even as you read this letter, some of our folks are utilizing new lighting technology in the field and recording their impressions. We plan to report on what we find in the near future. We are also monitoring new standards for reflective clothing and will be reporting on that area later in the year.

If you visit our booth or take one of our training offerings across the country, you'll agree that we have some of the most talented and committed people in the business on our team. Ron Moore, Jack Sullivan, Allen Baldwin, Bill Peterson, and others know more about this issue than most of us will ever experience. These leaders are backed up by an incredible team of people who labor behind the scenes daily to research and support all our efforts.

This summer, thanks to the full support of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and PA State Fire Commissioner Ed Mann, fifty of us spent 13 hours on an unopened section of the turnpike filming best practices. The results of our labor will soon be available as another free deliverable to you, our readers, as a download from this page in digital still photos and digital video. We think these best practices will help you educate your department or agency on the right - and safest - way of doing things.

Most of all, we bow our heads in reverence to all those who lost their lives this year helping others. Like you, we cringe when we see a police officer in a dark uniform standing in the roadway in low light with no reflective vest. Our hearts ache when we see EMS folks with their backs to traffic loading a patient, or a firefighter aimlessly walking at an accident scene with traffic whizzing by at 70 mph merely inches away. We know all too well what can happen in the blink of an eye. We see lives changed forever, for no reason other than that there was no plan on the part of the department and no personal accountability demanded upon these brave responders.

We're here to change that culture and with your help the highways will be a safer place for emergency responders in the coming year. We welcome your comments and questions. Send you e-mail to our editor and we will provide a prompt reply. Stay Safe.

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