NIOSH Makes Suggestions After Probe of Deadly Incident on Highway in Lower Merion Township, PA

June 19, 2024
Belmont Hills Firefighter Thomas Royds, 48, was struck and killed while operating on I-76.

In July 2021, as firefighters prepared to leave the scene of a crash on I-76, a vehicle veered into the area and struck three personnel including a state trooper.

Belmont Hills Firefighter Thomas Royds, 48, died of massive injuries sustained in the wreck while two colleagues and the trooper suffered serious injuries.

The driver,  Jacquelyn Walker, 64, of Little Egg Harbor, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, aggravated assault by vehicle and reckless endangerment.

She was sentenced to 12 to 24 years in state prison.

Following an investigation, NIOSH officials determined the following as factors:

  • Ineffective situational awareness
  • Failure to require and provide traffic incident management training and ensure competencies
  • Inadequate and ineffective department and company traffic incident management policy and company traffic incident management standard operating procedure (SOP) for response to roadway incidents.

They also made a number of reccommendations that departments should impletement in an effort to prevent tragedies along the highways.

  • Recommendation #1: All emergency responders involved with incident command operations should ensure an appropriate TIMA is identified and effective TTC zones are implemented for traffic incidents
  • Recommendation #2: All emergency responders involved with incident command operations should ensure a proper and effective termination of a TIMA to maintain the safety of all responders through their departure from the scene
  • Recommendation #3: All emergency responders involved with incident command and fire officers should ensure ongoing risk assessments through the duration of the incident until all responders have departed the scene
  • Recommendation #4: All responders should develop comprehensive situational awareness through education, practice, and experience
  • Recommendation #5: A multidisciplinary approach for traffic incident management training should be required and provided to all potential responders for roadway incidents
  • Recommendation #6: Develop fire department-wide TIM policies, trainings, and SOPs that are further expanded by each fire company based on specific community needs.



About the Author News

Content curated and written by Firehouse editorial staff, including Susan Nicol, Steven Shaw, Peter Matthews, Ryan Baker and Rich Dzierwa.

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