Dr. Harry Carter
Dr. Harry Carter
Editors Column- Saturday, Oct, 1, 2005

October 2005 Editor's Column

I think it is time to call a spade a spade. There are those of us who operate on the highways and byways of North America who need to get serious about protecting themselves from the dangers we all face when we set the parking brakes of our vehicles and step out on the road to do our job as emergency responders. They talk a nice game, but the time has come to play their part. Perhaps this should not serve as a surprise to any of us. How many times have you heard someone give the excuse that they did not do this or that because bad things always happen to the other guy or gal? I sure as heck have seen this particular mindset exemplified in the world or fire prevention and firefighting.

How many times have you attended a fire started or made worse by some simple and easily corrected problem? If you are like me, this is a phenomenon that is seen wide a sad frequency. In our case, I am talking about people who do things that they really should not do. They seem to think that they are exempt because they perceive themselves to be doing a good deed for their communities.

During a recent telephone conversation, a dear friend told me of some things he had witnessed during a recent firemen's parade in his area. Local fire police were pressed into service, as they so often are, to control traffic during a gala firemen's parade.

These men were operating at the busiest intersection during a major event. These people, all of who should know better, were seen directing traffic while not wearing their protective, reflective vests. All of these dedicated folks were long-time fire police officers and high former officials in their state organization. What in the heck is going one here?

Each of these people had the benefit of having taken some of the most comprehensive fire police training available in America. They were all long-time members of their respective local organizations and doubtless had attended untold numbers of highway emergency incidents. Yet in spite of this, they were seen by a number of equally well-train fire police members operating without their prescribed protective equipment.

Does the driver whose car strikes you know that hitting you during a festive occasion is any different that whacking you as you guide them past the scene of a fire or motor vehicle incident? Are the consequences to you any different? And is the pain you experience any less because you were directing traffic for a parade rather than an emergency?

I would offer to you that the answer to all of these questions is no! How in the world can any of us hope to improve the highway safety posture of the emergency services in our country when the veterans who should know better are not playing by the rules? I am deeply concerned about this particular incident.

Let me share with you that they were subjected to a great deal abuse by their passing brethren. As well these should be. How many of you have remained silent when you saw a safety rule being violated by members of your fire, police, or EMS organization? You should have your hand smacked for this.

I have taken a great deal of abuse from my fellow travelers in the emergency service world over the past few years. A lot of folks have made it their business to break my chops ever since people have taken note of the fact that I have become cognizant of any safety violation. Don't worry about me gang. I am tough enough to take the flak from my less concerned associates.

My worry is that you are sitting quietly by while the folks around you continue to take unnecessary risks. I have been to a funeral for an associate who was struck by a vehicle while performing his duties as a fire police officer. I stood at attention while grieving family members and brother firefighters escorted this brother to his final resting place.

That is why I signed on board the Emergency Response Safety Institute effort to reduce the toll of carnage on our highways. That is why I accepted Steve Austin's offer of the editor's position here at Respondersafety.com. We are laboring valiantly to raise the awareness of people as to the dangers they face every time they operate on the highways of their community.

I am asking you to join with us in doing the right thing. By now all of you should have a copy of our Ten Cones of Highway Safety video or DVD. If you do not, today is the day to order it. Today is the day to start sharing the wisdom of this program with your agency. Very shortly we will have a new highway safety package for you. Very shortly a new order form will be placed on our website which will allow you to order this product. Do it!

Pause and ponder my questions for a bit. Then begin to do the right thing. The war against highway danger can only be won by creating a cadre of converts to our cause. Step forward today and change the way you think and operate.

Step up to the plate and take a swing at the fastball known as highway safety. The consequences of ignorance and indifference are simple and deadly. You may be struck and suffer serious injury. You may be struck and killed. How would you like to arrive in Heaven knowing that you left grieving family and friends behind because you were just too stupid to do the right thing?

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