By Tony Carroll
n March, we celebrate Irish heritage by remembering St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, who died on March 17, 461. Some associate the Irish with “luck,” and the origins of the “luck of the Irish” can be tracked to the gold and silver rush of the 19th century. A lot of these miners were of Irish descent and their fortunes from mining were attributed to luck rather than hard work. Wherever this saying came from, the Irish people are known for their hard work, but sometimes luck is a good thing to have.
Are you a lucky firefighter? Or a good firefighter? This month’s Firefighter Survival focus is on highway safety- another one of the dangerous activities we engage in on a regular basis. According to the USFA, in 2017, 11 firefighters suffered traumatic deaths during an emergency incident not related to firefighting. Ten of the 11 traumatic injury deaths were from being struck by a vehicle, and one was from a vehicle collision involving fire apparatus. Two of those deaths occurred in Mississippi, where two firefighters were killed and one was injured when struck at a roadway incident on March 15, 2017. Click here for the NIOSH report to learn of their sacrifice.
Firefighters being struck on roadways was the subject of a recent IAFC Fire and EMS National Emergency Safety and Survival Alert. During the month of February, the IAFC requested all emergency service personnel to focus their attention on this issue. “Operations on roadways are high-risk, high-frequency events,” said Chief Dan Eggleston, IAFC president and chairman of the board. “With distracted driving, drivers under the influence, along with road and weather conditions and related traffic, firefighters are more at risk now than ever before, and unfortunately, numerous recent crashes back that up.”
Are you doing everything you can to make yourself hard to kill on our roadways? Do you wear the high-visibility gear, especially when working at night? Are you positioning the apparatus to establish a work area and as a buffer to traffic moving by? Are you working with your traffic department or department of transportation to secure traffic blocking assistance?
In 2017, 11 times more firefighters were killed while operating on roadways than operating in burning buildings. Please take time this month a plan your response to a roadway emergency. Check out this website for assistance: respondersafety.com
While this training may not be as “cool” as jumping out windows or pulling people up from the basement using a hoseline, it is important to our survival. Don’t use luck as your SOG. Be good!!
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Tony Carroll is a battalion chief with the District of Columbia Fire & EMS Department.