On September 18, 2011, a 41-year-old male volunteer fire fighter (the victim) lost his life while directing traffic at a motor vehicle collision on an interstate highway. The victim responded to the scene in the department's rescue truck to establish a traffic incident management area (TIMA) while an ambulance crew from his department checked on vehicle occupants involved in the collision.
After establishing and repositioning the TIMA, the victim positioned himself in the left lane ahead of the TIMA to direct oncoming motorists to the right lane. The victim was struck while standing on the left shoulder/left lane when a motorist swerved to the left from the right lane of travel to avoid hitting a vehicle in the right lane.
The victim was pronounced dead on the scene.
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Volunteer Fire Fighter Struck and Killed While Directing Traffic at an Interstate Highway Incident
- Insufficient training, staffing, equipment, and standard operating procedures to adequately establish a traffic incident management area to protect emergency responders and provide advanced warning to approaching motorists
- Victim working in a travel lane outside of the established traffic incident management area
- Lack of established pre-incident plans and agreements regarding traffic control incident management at roadway incidents with agencies responsible for responding to roadway incidents
- Inattentive motorist.
- Fire departments should ensure that emergency responders receive proper training and have adequate staffing, sufficient equipment, and appropriate procedures in place for responding to and operating at a roadway emergency incident
- Fire departments should ensure that standard operating procedures/guidelines include guidance on identifying and maintaining a safe location while working in or near moving traffic
- Fire departments should establish pre-incident plans and agreements regarding traffic control incident management at roadway incidents with other public safety agencies (e.g., fire departments, EMS, and law enforcement), local/state departments of highways, and private sector responders.
- Motorists should be attentive at all times while operating a motor vehicle, especially when approaching and driving through a traffic incident management area, so that they avoid striking emergency responders, other vehicles, and/or traffic control devices.
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