Column: Change lanes, save an Eagle Co. rescuer
The most dangerous place for a firefighter is not in a burning building. It is at the scene of a car accident. And while the title of this article uses the term firefighter, it is meant to describe all the personnel responding to an accident scene, be it police officers, paramedics, state transportation workers or firefighters. They all risk their lives when the call goes out. There is no safe area to work. An accident on the interstate means working with traffic in the next lane moving at a high rate of speed. Even if the accident is on a two-lane road, its still not safe. Traffic is going slower but there is less room to work. With no shoulder area to move to, traffic is closer to the accident scene and, with human nature what it is, drivers are distracted by whats happened at the accident rather than watching the road.Emergency workers must always be aware of oncoming traffic. If possible, at least one of the crew is assigned to traffic control, or at the very least be a lookout. Firefighters also are taught to position their apparatus between the accident and oncoming traffic. Last month, firefighters, paramedics, and police were saved for just that reason. While at the scene of an accident on Vail pass, a driver lost control of the semi truck he was driving, sideswiped a police car and slammed into the fire engine. Personnel were warned in advance by the posted lookout and everyone moved to safety prior to impact. Without that training in place and activated, many lives most certainly would have changed. In order to make it safer for emergency workers, the Colorado legislature recently passed a new law making it mandatory for approaching drivers to change lanes when they encounter any stopped emergency vehicle with its lights on. The simple act of slowing down and changing lanes to give these workers more room is going to save lives. Please remember, these workers are not just firefighters, police officers, paramedics, or state workers. When they go home, they are husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, or sons and daughters of someone that youre helping. Change a lane, save a life, and let them go home after their shift is over.
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