1. #1
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    Angry EMT Homicide - Driving

    Did everyone get a chance to view the latest news on the Utica, Indiana EMT that has been brought up on homicide charges for reckless driving that resulted in the death of another driver? If not check out the September 28,2002 story on Firehouse.com front page. This is exactly the thing we are all trying to avoid.

    So I ask the question again, How do we avoid this type of situation with-in our own departments? Training, Education, Discipline (positive and negative), Close call reporting (www.firefighterclosecall.com), and Accountability....Will they all work, will your department members take the training seriously, or will the overhead (Chiefs) really care?

    It is tragic when we have an accident that takes one of our Firefighting Family Members life, but when he take the life of someone we are sworn to protect, it is a disaster.

    Remember, we must get to the scene to do our job, we sould not create another incident while enroute, and never bring victims to the incident.

    Just some things to think about.

    TheWeave.
    LACoFD.

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    I have no intention of attempt to "try" this case in this forum; however, there are a couple issues to consider.

    First, the woman that was tragically killed failed to yield to an emergency vehicle...no question, period, fact, end of story. I have 23 years of emergency response experience and, probably like many of you, have plenty of "pucker" stories because of inattentive drivers.

    Second, it's a known fact that when a rig is "running red", people (the public) tend to think it's going faster than it really is. This has been proved by testing on more than one occasion.

    I'm sure that the firefighter's attorney will bring these issues up; we'll just have to watch the reports and hope it turns out that this public servant was acting responsibly after all.

    We all need to remember to be EXTRA, EXTRA cautious when using an "under-lit" vehicle like he was; i.e., no lightbar, concealed siren speaker(s), etc. If drivers ignore us with full NFPA/KKK lighting, air horns, and Q2Bs, what makes us think they'll pay attention to us in a "stealth" vehicle?

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    Exclamation WE HAVE TO BE ON THE BALL

    LOOK EVERYONE, ANYONE IN THESE FORUMS THAT DRIVE AN EMERGENCY VEHICLE HAS MOST LIKLEY HAD A CLOSE CALL. BUT THE POINT IS WE JUST HAVE TO BE MORE CAREFUL OUT THERE. USE YOUR PARTNER OR YOUR FIREFIGHTERS AND CAPTAIN TO LOOK OUT FOR YOU WHEN YOUR DRIVING. YOU CAN'T BE TO CAREFUL DRIVING OUT THERE, LET'S TRY AND BE EXTRA SAFE.

  4. #4
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    An accident investigator hired by the Vissing family put the speed at the point of impact at 65 miles per hour. Kenneth R. Agent, a Transportation Research Engineer for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, said Hutchins' speed would have been higher prior to his braking before impact.
    hope it turns out that this public servant was acting responsibly after all.
    20 miles an hour over the speed limit passing cars is not acting responsibly.

    YOU CAN'T BE TO CAREFUL DRIVING OUT THERE, LET'S TRY AND BE EXTRA SAFE.
    Well said.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    One article quoted one of the investigators as estimating the speed from 53-61 mph. Oklahoma law allows emergency vehicles to exceed the posted speed limit by 10 mph and with reasonable caution. Whatever his speed, and even though the woman wasn't paying attention and pulled right in front of him, he wasn't using "reasonable caution" or he probably would've seen her in time to divert and possibly avoid.

    I'm not trying to blindly defend the firefighter; my point is, the woman shares 50% of the blame.

  6. #6
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    Under NYS law, the operator of an Emregency vehicle can exceed the speed limit, run red lights etc. as long as the lights and siren are on. It also states that the operator must use due regard. In other words, if you do exceed the speed limit pass on the left etc. You are supposed to do it cautiously. That means you slow down at an intersection. You make sure the cars are stopping before cutting in front of them. Simple things. Don't assume anything about the driver of the other vehicle except for one thing. Assume the other driver doesn't even know you are there.

  7. #7
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    Default More Food For Thought

    Wow,
    I did not expect this much controversy on this. I am glad to see so many others involved and giving their opinons and ideas. I remove myself from any jury on this case and hope the best for anyone that ends up on it. I do have some more food for thought for all to look at and think about.

    Out here in California, there are two laws in the California Vehicle Code that come into play.

    CVC 21055 - This section exempts licensed operators of emergency vehicles from certain laws and regulations of the road.

    CVC 21056 - "Section 21055 does not relieve the driver of a vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway (road), nor protect him/her from the consequences of an arbitrary exercise of the privleges granted in that section."

    Wow - The key here is "due regard for the safety of others". In a hypothetical situation - If a vehicle operator enters an intersection (red light or green light does not matter) and T-Bones another vehicle, that driver can be held responsible because that is not considered due regard for safety. In this case in Indiana I ask, was the speed due regard for safety? Or safe for road conditions, traffic conditions, or weather? The law in California does not mention anything about who failed to yield, or who was in the right or right-of-way, or who hit who.

    At "excessive" speed (65 MPH), did the driver of the emergency vehicle give himself or the public time to react properly to the situation? As stated in a previous thread, the public often fails to react properly - No yielding to the right, they don't see us or hear us, or they panic. We all know that right??? So with that in mind how much time is needed to react at that or any speed??? 4 seconds plus 1 second for every 10 MPH over 40 MPH following distance??? But what about stationary objects? And if we know that, why travel 20 MPH over the speed limit? Some departments regulate speed to 5 or 10 MPH over the posted speed limit. One study shows that the average code 3 response saves 40 seconds. Is 40 seconds worth the extra danger of a code 3 response or the extra risk of a major accident and failing to arrive at scene at all? If it is me having the heart attack, I say yes, within limits of safety.

    I hope we all take a step back and ask ourselves and our departments, are we driving the best and safest we can? Take a look at your driving program and the laws within your state and see if there are thses kind of laws and loop holes.

    Remember, we must police ourselves when it comes to emergency driving, because if we don't, the public or the courts will. And they may not be as favoriable to us as we would like. Also, they don't care weather the side of the apparatus says "LACoFD, FDNY, Chicago FD, Pleasantvill FD, ...", they only look at the deep pocket full of $$$ they can get, and then they will lump all of us together. If some firefighter does something bad in NY or Florida, it will make a firefighter in California look bad and vise-versa.

    Choose to take the safest course of action, because safety is no accident.

    TheWeave
    LACoFD

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    Well think of this too. The lady that got T-Boned was making a left turn, this tells me that the line of traffic behind here was practicially at a dead stop. I ask, Would you pass a line of cars like this at 60 MPH?? I am thinking I would be more in the 30 MPH range. Then again, I drive cautiuosly, I don't want to be the one to wreck one of the trucks.

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    I don't want to be the one to wreck one of the trucks.
    and definitely not the one trying to justify why I just killed someone while responding.

    Drive safely, it's your life.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  10. #10
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    THE MAJOR THING WE HAVE TO REMEMBER HERE EVERYONE IS THAT WE HAVE TO LOOK AFTER ALL THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE NO REGUARD FOR THE ROAD AND FOR US. WHEN WERE BLAIRING DOWN THE STREET LIGHTS AND SIRENS SOME PEOPLE REALLY JUST DON'T CARE. ITS SAD TO SAY, BUT THAT A FACT. WE JUST HAVE TO BE MORE PREPARED THEN THEM. I'LL TELL EVERYONE IN HERE RIGHT NOW, KEEP YOUR EYES AND EARS OPEN; AND THE NEXT TIME YOU FEEL THAT YOUR CLEAR RIGHT OR CLEAR LEFT TAKE A LOOK FOR YOURSELF TOO.

  11. #11
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    Our protocols require us to drive no more than 10mph over posted limits. We have to stop at all red lights/stop signs and be sure the lanes are clear before driving through the intersection. I realize that to save lives we must respond ASAP but we also have a responsibility to drive as safely as possible doing it. I'm not condemning the EMT; God forbid one of us be in the same situation; merely suggesting that some policies need to be changed to prevent something like this happening again.
    Where are we going, and why am I in this hand-basket?

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    Default More Thoughts

    After taking another driving class (Yes, I may be the Guru for my Department, but I still take classes), some very interesting points were brought up. With much of this discussion on this topic I thought I would share some of the ideas.

    Usually the courts will judge the actions of an emergency vehicle operator based on two primary questions :

    1 - Was the emergency vehicle responding to a TRUE emergency?

    2 - Did the emergency vehicle driver exercise DUE REGARD for the safety of others?

    And there is a third statement that was repeated -- "If you (the emergency vehicle) were not there to begin with, the accident would not have happened."

    So what is a TRUE EMERGENCY -- A situation in which there is a HIGH PROBABLY of death or serious injury to an individual or significant property loss. -- But what if it turns out to be a false alarm, how are we to know until we get there? That has not mattered in past cases, so drive as cautiously as you can.

    Also, all those exemptions many of the vehicle codes offer us as emergency vehicle operators, are thrown out the door when an accident occurs. It should read "As an emergency vehicle operator, you are exempt from certain laws until something happens, then you are on your own."

    So drive as if your life, your family lives, and the lives of others depends upon your driving, because they do.

    TheWeave.
    LACoFD.

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    Just an observation from my driving experiances.

    Has anyone else noticed the guy on the motorcycle is the
    last one to see or hear you.

    Have been riding pass. and seen many times a motorcycle has
    almost been hit when we were turning off our street onto another.

  14. #14
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    Yes, I have noticed it... from both sides of the handlebars. A motorcycle rider has less external visual and audible keys than a vehicle motorist. The helmet and road noise block out most sound and the mirrors are small and rarely reflect anything unless glanced at. The only way I realise an ambulance following me is from the lights reflecting off my surroundings. It's very rare that I actually hear one coming unless I'm already stopped. I always keep this in mind when I run code (or just driving/riding in general).
    Where are we going, and why am I in this hand-basket?

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