National Firefighter Near Miss Featured Report: It’s all fun and games until…

By Amanda McHenry
National Firefighter Near Miss Reporting System

The goal of this series is to raise awareness of injury producing situations in an effort to reduce injuries. This week’s featured report touches on what might be considered an unusual incident until it is framed in the context that it could happen to any of us. Approximately half of the 85 reports that mention “eye” deal with injuries or near injuries to the eye.

“…I responded to an MVA on our interstate–north bound. I was the first fire department unit on the scene and assumed command. Also on the scene was a unit from the state police. The vehicle involved was a late model SUV that was resting on the shoulder on the driver’s side. I had put on my PPE…I approached the vehicle and sized up the situation. There was no fire or smoke, a slight amount of antifreeze had leaked. I was able to make contact with the victim by the rear tail gate. The victim was in no immediate distress…the police officer moved me to the front of the car to point out a possible entry point. As I approached the area, I made contact with the vehicle antenna…”

We only have one pair of eyes. They are among the most fragile organs we have, yet they provide us with one of the most powerful capacities we know. A survey conducted in Britain found that over 90% of the people polled ranked sight as the sense they would most hate to lose. While working at the incident scene or for that matter anyplace that has the potential to damage our eyes, the simple act of putting on a pair of ANSI approved safety glasses lessens the potential for the “unexpected.” The whole concept of “unexpected” in our business is worth extensive exploration. But that is for another discussion. After you have reviewed this week’s report (CLICK HERE) and given some thought to your own experience, consider the following:

1. What are your state’s “OSHA” rules for eye protection?
2. Why do you think firefighters are lax about wearing eye protection?
3. Is your faceshield an acceptable substitute for eye protection?
4. Does your department issue ANSI approved eye protection to each member or provide it at hazardous work stations?
5. What is your department’s SOPs for wearing eye protection?

Had near miss while working around a vehicle collision site? Submit your report to today. The fifteen minutes you take to tell your story can make lifetime of difference for a fellow firefighter.

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.

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