Report Number: 05-0000356
Report Date: 07/23/2005
Fire department personnel responded to a reported vehicle crash with entrapment on an interstate highway. The vehicle was off the roadway. The patient was moved to the ambulance via a stokes basket. While off-loading the patient onto the ambulance cot, a semi-tractor trailer struck the rear of a passenger vehicle about 12 feet from the rear of the ambulance in the parallel travel lane to the incident. This occurred with three State Police vehicles, a State Highway vehicle with an arrowboard operating, an ambulance, and five fire department vehicles on scene. The responding fire department has no SOP/SOG's regarding emergency scene vehicle staging to protect responders other than "voluntary compliance" with a state law requiring vehicles to move over one lane for parked emergency apparatus. This type of incident has occurred in this jurisdiction several times without SOP/SOG/training to address the risk.
The narrative describes the obvious lessons to be learned. Namely, voluntary compliance does not protect responders in an adequate fashion to limit risk of secondary crashes to responders. The vehicles were traveling so quickly that I saw the smoke from the semi's brakes, heard the crash, but failed to see the impact despite the fact it was only about 12 feet away. Adequate training, equipment, and SOP's to meet the MUTCD (Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, a DOT publication) standards would minimize the risks to response personnel.
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