Part of my job as apparatus editor is to scour the Internet and read all of the fire and emergency services publications to see what is going on in the field of fire apparatus and safety.
While surfing the net recently, I came upon a great Web site established by the Los Angeles Fire Department. While most of us are working on training our firefighters in the safe and proper operation and driving of emergency vehicles, the LAFD has taken a proactive approach in creating a public awareness program to teach the average citizen how to react when they are in the mix with emergency vehicles.
Operation Right Move (www.lafd.org/rightmove.htm) is a campaign sponsored by the LAFD and the California Office of Traffic Safety. Its goal is to educate the public about the importance of yielding to fire trucks, ambulances and police vehicles when they are responding to emergency incidents.
The campaign studied statistics for a three-year period from 1999 to 2001. Some interesting facts came out of the study:
1. Almost 16,000 collisions occur nationwide every year because a growing number of drivers are failing to pull to the right when emergency vehicles are using their lights and sirens to respond to emergencies.
2. A total of 1.9 million emergency responses occurred during the three-year period.
3. In Los Angeles, 175 out of 179 LAFD traffic accidents resulted in injuries or fatalities to firefighters or civilians.
The campaign’s site also provides information for civilians on how to react when they approach an intersection with its “8 Simple Rules to Yield to an Emergency Vehicle,” which also specifies what to do in congested traffic when you hear an emergency vehicle approaching.
While some of the rules deal with the California Vehicle Code, the program can easily be adopted for your response area. I am sure if you contacted the LAFD, they would be glad to help you get started with your own program.
Keeping the public informed of fire department operations can potentially help your public awareness program. Not only should we be promoting public fire prevention education but also promoting emergency vehicle safety while responding and returning from alarms. A better educated public can be a great asset to the fire service, especially in this day and age.
Apparatus Editor Bob Vaccaro has more than 30 years of fire-service experience. He is a past chief of the Deer Park Fire Department on Long Island. Vaccaro has also worked for the Insurance Services Office®., the New York Fire Patrol and several major insurance companies as a senior loss control representative. Email questions or feedback for Bob Vaccaro to Bob.Vaccaro@FireRescue1.com.
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