Apparatus & Equipment, Firefighting

National Firefighter Near Miss Report: Where’d you guys come from?

By Amanda McHenry
National Firefighter Near Miss Reporting System

A vehicle incident is the topic for this week’s Report of the Week. An excerpt from the report appears below. The engine driver in the report finds himself faced with a difficult situation requiring a split second decision: strike a distracted bicyclist that has crossed into the engine’s path or cross into the opposing lane. This week’s featured report is just one of 322 Vehicle Events that have been submitted to www.firefighternearmiss.com. The Vehicle Events category contains 68 reports that specifically mention vehicles crossing the center line and 5 reports that speak to distracted drivers, both civilian and fire service.

“While returning from the alarm activation, we were going north on a road toward the station. As we were approaching the entrance to [name deleted] apartments, a [lady] was riding a bicycle out of the complex towards the road. She had head phones on and had a bicycle with no brakes. She did not hear the truck approaching and she made no attempt to stop prior to getting to the road and pulled out in front of us. The driver/operator [deleted] was able to avoid an accident by braking and swerving into the south bound lane of the road. When the truck was stopped, [the crew] proceeded to check on [the lady]. She was not hurt, just shook up, and nervous about the incident. I told her to remove her headset so I could talk to her and explained to her how close she came to getting injured. …”

Read the entire thing HERE. The unpredictable nature of civilian drivers’ actions is frequently mentioned in emergency vehicle operator courses (EVOC). This message is often framed in the traffic of emergency response. This report highlights the point that EVOC classes also need to emphasize the all encompassing environment of driving emergency vehicles. Once you have reviewed the complete narrative account and lessons learned, consider the following:

1. How many evasive maneuvers have you made as an emergency vehicle operator?
2. What percentage of those maneuvers would you characterize as occurring during routine driving; during emergency responses?
3. Which of these event(s) is the most memorable and why?
4. Did these event(s) spark a change of practice in the way you drive?
5. Did you conduct a self assessment to determine if your handling of the apparatus may have contributed to the near miss?

Had a near miss with a distracted driver? Keep your brothers and sisters on task by submitting your experience to www.firefighternearmiss.com today.

Note: The questions posed by the reviewers are designed to generate discussion and thought in the name of promoting firefighter safety. They are not intended to pass judgment on the actions and performance of individuals in the reports.