Thread: Vehicle Accident
02-20-2001, 03:07 PM #1jacobson64Firehouse.com Guest
How does other counties handle accidents? In our county the sheriff says the law enforcement is in charge of accidents scenes when he calls us for jaws. Is this rite or what? Who is in charge the chief of fire department or law enforecment?
02-20-2001, 05:01 PM #2D.SCHWERFirehouse.com Guest
Once on a scene fire dept is in command and runs the job. EMS in charge of patient care and packaging.
Police/Fire Police run traffic
FD runs copter LZ
The views and opinions expressed herin are my personal views and opinions and not those of any organization, department I may belong to or represent
02-20-2001, 06:26 PM #3BayRidge60Firehouse.com Guest
It depends on your county's response protocols. If you are dispatched to an accident, the fire company runs the show until it is cleared. Then law enforcement may conduct their investigation if need be. I have had much experience with patrol officers trying to tell us how to do our jobs. My response usually is "Do you have a white helmet? I don't think so...why don't you go direct traffic"
02-20-2001, 06:47 PM #4Safety1Firehouse.com Guest
It would depend on several things.
First check your SOG's, is command at a PI addressed? If not, start working a response SOG up.
Second, I guess I would ask what type of command you are questioning?
I have seen officers go overboard on how they act on scenes. If that happens hand the officer the jaws and point out that his house (espicially in Kalkaska) won't pay the million dollar liability suit.
Or... Is the SD upset about how the department handles the call or where they park the unit. I've seen that happen more than not.
Command of the scene I believe is addressed in Michigan compiled law. I won't bet lunch but I think the Police are in overall charge of the scene, FD are in charge of fire response and extrication and EMS is in charge of patient care.
If the officer is interfering with patient care report him to the local medical control authority or the State medical control.
I had this problem with a trooper once. Amazing what the words liability lawsuit will do when you call the post commander and regional Captain.
Bottom line - it ain't worth getting put in the back of the radio car in handcuffs. Which BTW could happen if you used the white hat line. Most cops are great, but, if they are telling you to do something, they usually have a rotten sense of humor.
Let the chiefs battle it out
[This message has been edited by Safety1 (edited 02-20-2001).]
[This message has been edited by Safety1 (edited 02-20-2001).]
02-20-2001, 07:33 PM #5Engine69Firehouse.com Guest
In Ohio, it is very clear that the Fire Chief is in command of ALL emergency scenes. The sticky area is when does the scene no longer constitute an emergency. Once the patient is removed? Once the vehicles involved are removed? Once and potential hazardous materials (gasoline, oil, etc) are removed? These are the times that things get a little confusing with law enforcement. Fortunately, we have a pretty good working relationship with the local police and State Highway Patrol, so it has not been an issue lately. However, I have seen some heated roadside jurisdictional discussions in the past.
02-20-2001, 11:09 PM #6ghettofire79Firehouse.com Guest
in our community the fire department handles the scene when they get on location, but before the PD and EMS are in charge, fire police control traffic
02-21-2001, 10:58 AM #7AlexB892Firehouse.com Guest
We generally have a good working relationship with the PD, and we pretty much agree that if there are injuries, then Fire/Rescue is in charge until they leave the scene, otherwise PD is in charge. In this county we run 1000s of accidents per year, and I've only heard of a few problems, like once state PD towed an engine company because they were too slow in re-opening the interstate after a wreck. It's really unusual to have anything like that happen though. 99.9% of the time the cops will help us with anything we need them to do on the scene.
My opinions are not necessarily those of my department. I speak only for myself.
02-21-2001, 02:55 PM #8cfr3504Firehouse.com Guest
In Va at least, the Fire Department is in charge of the scene. Sometimes an officer with an attitude will try to take over or tell us what to do, but when it boils down to state law, the Fire Department is in charge, period. My FD does the ambulance, and extrication, so there is no problems about who is in charge of that area. Generally we do handle traffic control, because it is kind of hard for one officer to effectivly take care of this, and the response time can be 10 mins-1 hour for the state troopers in my county , so we have to do traffic to watch out for our selves.
02-21-2001, 06:29 PM #9JAMESBENNETTFirehouse.com Guest
In the great state of Texas L/E is incident command. They are responsible for accident investigation and traffic, EMS does pt. care, and the FD. does rescue and haz-mat. In most instances this would refer to the Highway Patrol or D.P.S. for command. They are given command, because they are responsible for the scene and this has filtered down to local L/E as well. This has prompted a few "PO-PO's" to try to tell me my job, but I just tell them that if they what my help they can go and direct traffic and let me work or they can do it themselves and I will go home. I know that attitude will draw a lot of criticism, but I will not subject my people to taking orders from or being part of an extrication led by an untrained cop on an ego trip and risk their safety. You see the key to all this is we are volunteer and not under any obligation to act(except moral) were he/she is responsible civilly and criminally for their action's. I don't tell the medic how to do pt care, I don't tell them how to charge people or direct traffic, so I don't expect them to tell me my job! For the most part this works well for everyone, because D.P.S. has a world of resources at their finger tips that the rest of us have to jump though hoops to get. They also offer a bird's-eye-view of the scene, because their jobs are not the most critical on the scene and they have time to think and re-act were a lot of time hesitation on our part could mean life or death. I say if the Sheriff wants the responsibility then give it to him. Do your job and let them worry about the rest!
SERVING FOR PRIDE
PROUD TO SERVE!
02-22-2001, 07:04 AM #10Da SharkieFirehouse.com Guest
Here in Massachusetts, by state law, teh fire department is in charge of the accident scene until they clear the scene. Most of teh police officers are good and don't have a problem. Sometimes tehy can get to be a pain in the butt about traffic, which is understandable. The only problem we run into is when we have to tell a state trooper that the highway needs to be shutdown. They try to fight us on it sometimes but we can usually bring them around. Especially when they see the lifeflight helicopter overhead.
I didn't do it, nobody saw me do it. You can't prove anything.
02-22-2001, 09:17 AM #11FPOfficer308Firehouse.com Guest
Speaking of liability, who would be liable for a the fender-bender you created while directing traffic? I'm sure some shister lawyer would love to here a firefighter was doing a police officer's job!
Just my opinion.
02-22-2001, 12:15 PM #12N2DFireFirehouse.com Guest
I agree with your opinion that we could be (and probably would be) held liable for any accidents that occur while we are directing traffic, but what are our alternatives ?
Like cfr3504, I am also in a rural VA county where arrival of State Police could take anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour. (Franklin Co. is the 7th largest county in VA in terms of land area at 722 square miles. This ENTIRE area is serviced by only 2 State Troopers at any one time.) Help from Town & County PD is virtually unavailable due to this same "minimalist" staffing.
What do you suggest we do if we can't (or shouldn't) direct traffic ?
Do we simply shut down all traffic until a trooper shows up? (or does blocking a road constitute directing traffic as well - a good shyster lawyer would argue that technically you "directed" them to stop)
Or do we simply trust these drivers to find their own way through an accident scene without causing further problems or hitting any rescue personnel ?
Also as cfr3504 stated - how is one officer supposed to direct traffic AND interview one or more drivers involved in the accident at the same time ?
I am not trying to be argumentative nor am I attempting to be an @$$ hole - I'm simply looking for suggestions on how to do things safer & better and I would appreciate your and everyone else's input.
Take Care - Stay Safe
02-22-2001, 02:38 PM #13cfr3504Firehouse.com Guest
That's a good point, but like n2dfire said, we don't have any other options. I wish we could get someone else to do traffic control, it's a pain and ties up at least 2 more people. Thankfully we've never gotten into the situation with our dept. I do know of a least one situation in another part of the county where a accident was caused, but it was the fault of the driver not the people directing traffic, and the state trooper cited them for reckless driving accordingly. But N2Dfire pretty much summed up my thoughts too. BTW I'm in neighboring Pittsylvania county the largest in land area, so our problem can be even worse at times. Oh well, what can you do?
02-23-2001, 03:29 AM #14MarionFire1Firehouse.com Guest
You should check your state/county codes to see who is in charge on an accident scene.
In our district we oversee the incident on MVA's as well as on the fire ground. We conduct traffic control as well, this allows the Highway Patrol Officer to do his investigation without interuptions. We stay on scene until the wreckers have completed their job.
It should be noted that we are in a rural area with no city police dept. and the County Sheriffs Office will only respond in the event of a fatality.
[This message has been edited by MarionFire1 (edited 02-23-2001).]
02-24-2001, 06:35 PM #15Eng522ineFirehouse.com Guest
This is a question I had wondered about myself. So, I went and did some digging and according to the Town Council Ordinance that created the fire department in my town the senior fire officer or senior member on the scene is in charge of any scene we are called to until we clear the scene. Now that I can back it up... I cannot wait to tell the cops to go scratch when i want a safety lane on our next MVA!!!
02-25-2001, 05:39 PM #16dimabFirehouse.com Guest
In my county, the FD is command until we clear. PD is just there to do traffic for us. If there are no injuries on scene, senior officer is in charge. If there are injuries, captain of rescue truck is in charge of EMS and a senior officer of the incident. In either case, PD is nothing but traffic control for us.
They are usually good to us, except that all the cops LOVE to park directly where our truck is going to park, especialy for box alarms and structure fires.
02-26-2001, 01:02 AM #17eyecueFirehouse.com Guest
IT depends on the laws for the state and county/municipality that you are in. In Colorado, Everything on the highway that isnt in a city belongs to Colorado State Patrol. IF you are in a county rural area, the Sheriff is deemed to be the authority at all incidents. If you are in a city then it gets sticky. Hazmat belongs to the police and fires belong to us. Accidents are Police also. This can be over ridden by local laws and in many cities it is. Check yours!
03-02-2001, 06:32 AM #18tlfd600Firehouse.com Guest
Well I agree with JAMESBENNET, luckily my EMS and Fire departments keep a good relationship with the Law Enforcement, most of them will bend over backwards for you especially SO. Unfortunatly, it is hard to get a Texas State Trooper to listen to you, as soon as they show up(usually about 5 minutes or more after us) their first statement is we are about to open the road back up, or hurry we need to open the road.I have even heard of an incident where a DPS trooper got in an ambulance and moved it without consent of the FD because it was blocking a lane of traffic on a busy road. I know of another fire department that could not get the road blocked off and finally had to do it on their own with a fire truck because one of their guys was almost run over by a drunk driver. Always try to talk polite with the police and be friendly on other occasions, if you get into a peeing contest they will win.
03-02-2001, 03:34 PM #19RJEFirehouse.com Guest
I was taught (dept. SOP) to slew the truck and block the accident lane and one additional. Of course, on most of the roads where I was a vollie, that meant the whole road Oh, well.
Here's a good one for you. A week or so ago, we (the NE Okla. area) had an ice storm. Lots of wrecks. PD on "operation slick streets" which is where if it's "non-injury" you don't need the cops. Stop at "QuikTrip" and pick up a report, exchange insurance info, etc. So here's the incident.
On the interstate, a car spins. A semi, trying to avoid it, jack-knifes, then straigtens out, then slides into the ditch and rolls 1/4 onto it's left side in the median. The truck is a van/box, and displays hazmat placards for flammable and corrosive, multiple codes for exotic chems.
FD responds from two directions. BC on scene first (approaching from the back) sees something leaking from the trailer, and backs off. He orders pumper following to "close the road. Pumpers from both directions park across the road 200yds away, both directions. I-44 is now closed.
Now they get on the phone to chemtrec, and are advised to move back to 500yds, pack up, and "oh, by the way, PPE may not offer adequate protection". Chief immediately calls Tulsa Hazmat M/A.
5 minutes later, OHP supervisor demands to know why the turnpike is closed. FAO on the pumper explains the situation. OHP orders the pumper moved. FAO says talk to the chief. OHP says - call the chief. Chief replies "I'm a little busy (remember, he's first on the scene, took down the numbers, then backed off, now he's on the phone to chemtrec) right now, he'll have to wait."
FAO relays to chief that OHP is insisting "get up here and talk to me face to face right now... Or get this road open (at least one lane). Chief replies - "It's my scene. If you want to assume responsibility, fine. But if you do, we're going home." OHP: "I assume responsibility." Chief: "FD03 to main, all S... FD units are 10-8 in route to quarters! Pack it up, guys." (on the radio).
Turns out the trailer had numerous thinks in it, and the one that was leaking was not dangerous, but....
04-02-2001, 02:55 AM #20chief462Firehouse.com Guest
the change of command changes as the incident progresses. in our area the fire dept i.c. is in the command position first. as medical units arive they are in charge of patiant care and if extrication is needed the ems personell say what way they want the patiant removed and the fire co. is in charge of extrication. as police arrive they will be in charge of traffic and accident investigation. after all victoms are extricated and the incident is under control , then all decisions are made by the police
asst. chief kevin smith
04-05-2001, 01:58 AM #21Deputy Dog DashwoodFirehouse.com Guest
Cops do cop stuff, Traffic eat doughnuts get in the way be near stuff they arn't suppose to be near etc.
When we get there we try to work together if you get a ketstone cop time to pull rank Safety =fire dept.
FYT FYR FOREVER
04-05-2001, 10:55 AM #22LtStickFirehouse.com Guest
We don't have this problem with the police. I know that on the interstate they don't want it shut down unless you talk to them first but, sometimes the accident itself shuts it down. As far as command they don't bother us. As for traffic controle we are usually the ones doing it. We normally only get one Officer on an accident. Somebody has to do it. We do have some fire police but not many are active.
04-09-2001, 02:22 AM #23AC6Firehouse.com Guest
In our area the Fire Chief is in command of the scene until all safety issues have been addressed. Breaking it down further the ems squad is in charge of the patient(s), fire is in charge of scene safety and extrications and law enforcement is in charge of traffic and investigation. Regardless of who is in charge, if everyone works together the scene is almost always taken care of quicker. We suffer the same problems as many of you do. You pull up on a scene and only have one officer to direct traffic. This is a problem on a regular road but what about an intersection? I realize that this can take away available manpower but isn't our job safety when it is boiled down to it's most basic form? If nothing else take a look at how many firefighters are killed each year because they got hit by a vehicle at a scene.
This, who is in charge? has, is and will be a problem for law enforcement, fire dept's and ems for as long as the three agencies refuse to sit down and do some preplanning before the next call. Trying to solve this problem "in the heat of the call" is putting everybody at risk and is the least efficient way of dealing with the situation. I have responded to MVA's as a Firefighter, Fire Officer, EMT and LEO. Each agency has its own priorities that it focusing on during any given responce. Only by all agencies learning about the other agencies can everyone get along and perform their tasks in the most efficent way possible. I know that there are going to be individual personalities that can be difficult to work with, but just make sure that you do not fit into that group. Bad mouthing the other agencies is not going to accomplish anything but to make things worse. You can call cops "donut eaters" or whatever, but remember, to them the fire dept. can be "evidence eradication specialists". These attitudes may be dificult to overcome and it may have to start with you. When the officer is trying to measure the scene offer to give him a hand with an end of the tape measure. If it is night time offer to let them use your floodlights when you are done with them. Small steps like this can foster good working relationships that don't focus on who's the boss. Lastly, the way I figure it, if you are fighting to be recognized as being in charge of something then you will never be in control of it.
04-10-2001, 01:05 PM #24FireloverFirehouse.com Guest
For us, it depends on how the call comes in. If the dispatch says that there's a MVA with or without injuries, we responde and we are in charge. The IOC doesn't usually respond unless it's a major MVA. Until we went to a centralized dispatched, we never really had police on scene unless they got there first. Plus they barely do traffic.
If you sent us to HELL, WE'D PUT IT OUT!!
**And of course these are only my opinion and only mine. Don't take it out on anyone else but me.**
04-10-2001, 01:41 PM #25AdzeFirehouse.com Guest
In CT, thanks to state statute 7-313e, the FD is in charge of any call we go to.
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