Improving the Health & Safety of all Emergency Responders

Blocking Techniques for Roadway Incidents

Jack Sullivan illustrates blocking and parking tactics for roadway incidents to protect responders and increase scene safety.

April 21, 2016

The highway is still one of the most dangerous work areas for firefighters and emergency medical personnel to work. Vehicle fires, motor vehicle crashes, medical assist calls, hazardous materials incidents, brush fires and structure fires can all put emergency personnel at risk of being struck by a vehicle while operating along or near roadways. In 2015, there were nine incidents involving firefighters and/or EMTs who were struck and killed by vehicles. There were many more struck-by-vehicle incidents that resulted in injuries—some very serious-to emergency personnel and/or caused emergency vehicle damage.

Motorists today are more distracted than ever before. Smartphones with all their capabilities are a major contributing cause, but we also have plenty of drivers who are driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol, or lack of sleep. We also have more disgruntled drivers on the road than ever before who completely disregard any authority figures on scene and just do what they want to do, which can put emergency personnel at risk of being struck. Your uniform, personal protective gear, badge or emergency vehicles on scene do not cause people to adjust their driving speed in many cases. Even if they can see you, it does not guarantee that they will slow down and proceed with caution. As a result, it becomes necessary for firefighters and EMTs to take defensive actions as they arrive at incident scenes including using their emergency vehicles for a block to protect responders and the victims they were responding to assist in the first place.

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