At this point, our chief called for the fire police to deploy and cut off the back street. The chief then placed his vehicle next to the patrol car which was blocking the scene at the intersection just west of our accident scene. As I later discovered, our township police were coordinating with the police from the next township over to re-route motorists away from our scene. However, we were still faced with a significant number of cars in the area of beautiful, downtown Adelphia.
It was at this point that I saw one of the stupidest set of driver behaviors which it has ever been my sad misfortune to witness. A traffic safety officer from our police department arrived on location and proceeded to pass around the patrol car/fire chief's car blocking position, so that he could arrive at the accident scene and assist in the investigation. All of a sudden, about a dozen civilian vehicles followed him around the blocking position.
There we were, moving across the highway and loading an ambulance, when we were surrounded by a number of cars trying to get by us. Talk about scary and confusing. It would have been quite easy indeed to have had one of our members, or the EMS or police personnel struck by an errant motorist. Luckily, this did not happen.
It was at this point that the traffic safety officer directed all of the offending vehicles into out fire station parking lot, through the back entrance. He lined them up and proceeded to go from car to car issuing tickets for the various infractions which these errant citizens had committed. I later learned that all of these tickets had been upheld by our local, municipal court.
The ambulances were loaded up and the injured transported to the local hospital. Not long after this, the tow truck came and the accident scene was cleared. Personally speaking, I think we were really lucky at this one. No one was injured. However, a number of lessons were learned and others reinforced.
Here are my thoughts:
· Traffic safety vests must be worn by all personnel (including law enforcement).
· Traffic control must be established
· A highway safety zone must be established
· The alternative traffic routes must be policed so that people will not be trying to sneak by you. This could lead to people being surprised and struck from behind.
· You need to post people to watch the blocking positions.
· Everyone on location must be aware of their environment and keep an eye out for traffic encroaching on the operational area.
We were lucky this time. However, we took the time to discuss this situation and will make our findings part of a future training session. Coordination with law enforcement and EMS personnel is critical. We will continue to work on this.