Monday, April 6, 2009

First-Due, Second-Due; Do Not Pass Go, Proceed Directly to Jail

Last week a horrific accident involving two responding fire apparatus collided in an intersection resulting in serious personal injuries to eleven people, nine of which were firefighters. The resulting collision caused significant property damage to the six month old aerial ladder and the year old engine.

The preliminary investigation of the crash indicated that the apparatus driver of the aerial truck may have run a red light at the intersection, while the engine company driver had the green light. The engine company also had control of the Opticom system at the intersection. Both companies were responding to what initially was a reported fire call-but turned out to be public works crew smoke-testing sewer lines.

The most significant issue that has arisen thus far is that law enforcement officials have determined that aerial ladder driver ran the red traffic signal-causing last weeks crash, and now has officially been charged with failure to use due caution. The aerial ladder subsequently rolled, hit a woman on a bicycle, snapped a utility pole and landed on top of a car. The bicyclist crushed by the ladder truck, remains in critical condition. The ramifications of this charge may be far reaching in a number of ways. And all of this for the first-due.

You know what I mean. Responding to what has all the makings of a “good” call, knowing that other companies are heading to the same address from different stations or departments- All with one goal in mind; being first-due. It’s interesting to note, one of the articles in the local news media mentions, “Did station rivalry cause the fire truck crash?” Take a look HERE. Say it ain’t so! Trying to beat another company in to the scene- preposterous, we don’t do anything like that! Running red lights, blowing through intersections, pushing the envelope with the speed limit..all in the name of the first-due.

When are we going get it!
Stop and think about some of the moral, ethical and legal responsibilities the next time you get behind the wheel of an apparatus and begin rolling out the station. Whether you’re the apparatus driver or the company officer-SOMEONE needs to keep the response in check and balance the urgency, severity, the needs and the timliness of the response. YOU as the apparatus drive NEED to take FULL responsibility. Can you handle that? Take a look at some of the incident reports on the NIOSH Reports or at the EGH site. Stop and think, is it worth the risks you're taking? You may not have the chance to pass go, you won’t be collection 200 dollars; You may be going directly to jail- with no free get out of jail card. Slow down, drive responsibly, there's always going to be another call, there always is.
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  1. I'm an EMT with a Volunteer Fire Department. I've almost been hit twice by a person on our squad determined to be first on scene.

    First on scene at an accident can have more than one meaning.

  2. How do you stop people from disobeying the traffic rules and the department rules? I've got guys with over 15 years that can't seem to understand that stop means stop and seatbelts are for "your" safety.

  3. We have an EMT on our unit who has a bad case of gettherefirstitis. I have personally witnessed this person doing 65 in a 25 MPH zone. When confronted about exceeding the speed limit, the person denied they were speeding. I am afraid we will be responding to a medical call and will have an additional accident and patients. How do you disipline a volunteer?

  4. In responce to the 15 year members not following local protocal, nor state and local laws: its simple, remove them from driving emergency vehicles and do not allow them to drive private vehcle to an emergency scene. It seems very harsh but it prevents serious suits against the department and its leadership. In time others will believe you mean buisness and rethink the way they do buisness. One or two examples will get the attention of all personel.

  5. A child on a bicycle.
    A child chasing a ball into the street.
    A car backing out of driveway.
    These are all targets of drivers of emergency vehicles who are smart enough to attain certification in firefighting and emergency medical treatment, but completely spazz out behind a steering wheel.
    WE have to control that. They are a liability and a threat to public safety.
    We are suppose to provide aid. We aren't suppose to provide the injuries also.
    There have been WAY too many vehicle accidents in the last two years.
    And while we are on the subject of our volunteer departments; you might want to have a section in your SOGs that address drinking alcohol and responding to a call. Because we never know when we will be called, it is not uncommon to have drinks after work or whatever. If you don't have a set duty schedule, then you need to police those who consume and respond.
    We need to fix it now.

  6. It is always dangerous to depend on a siren to clear intersections. What if an emergency vehicle is approaching from another direction that also has its siren on? And, what about the danger to hearing-impaired drivers?

    It might sound harsh, but a firefighter who refuses to obey Departmental rules and regulations after three warnings must be terminated. Not to do so would be to set up the Department to lose the first lawsuit caused by the problem firefighter.


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