Highway Safety Tips for Emergency Responders
Emergency responders are exposed to dangers each day they are on the job. Whether those dangers are physical or emotional; knowing how to protect yourself on the job is vital. The goal of every emergency agency is that everyone goes home at the end of the shift. Too often we hear on the news of an emergency responder being involved in an accident while working at an emergency scene. Today, we have some highway safety tips for emergency responders so all emergency personnel can stay safe while operating at an emergency incident.
Temporary Traffic Controls
Each emergency agency should have standard operating guidelines or procedures that document how temporary traffic controls are to be deployed at an emergency scene on the highway or any other roadway. Make sure you know these procedures and follow them each time you are dispatched to an incident on the roadway.
You need to use clear communication at every roadside incident as an emergency responder. Make sure you use language that other members of your agency can understand and always speak clearly and slowly into the radio. If you are operating at a scene with multiple agencies, make sure everyone is on the same page about language to be used on the radio, especially if it involves the safety of others.
Every emergency scene on a highway or other roadway should have an incident command setup. Even if the event is only expected to last a few minutes there needs to be someone in charge of the scene. The incident commander will be responsible for monitoring the progress of the incident and the personnel on the scene.
Personal Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment, or PPE, is not just for firefighters or EMS personnel. PPE is also for police officers, tow truck drivers, and other personnel who respond to roadway incidents. This gear includes reflective vests, reflective jackets, bright-colored hats, steel-toed boots, helmets, goggles, gloves and flashlights. Never step foot on the roadway from your vehicle unless you have your PPE on and are in a safe place within the emergency scene.
If you need to walk in and out of traffic, or near moving traffic, make sure you are facing it at all times. Even if you have to pick up cones or other traffic-blocking devices that have been deployed you should never turn your back to oncoming traffic. Make eye contact with all motorists when directing traffic so you know they saw your hand signals.