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					                              ‚Safe Parking‛… Working In Or Near Moving
                                                 Traffic
                             By Ron Moore, Training and Safety Officer for the
                                    McKinney (Texas) Fire Department




Overview:
        Our Near-Miss Reporting System training theme for this month is titled
‚Safe Parking‛ and involves reviewing department safety procedures for
operating at street, road, or highway incident scenes. The hazards associated
with working in or near moving traffic are immense. It is a too frequent event
that we hear of responders including fire, EMS, law enforcement, and even tow
and recovery operators being struck and injured or killed by moving traffic while
at incidents out on the streets. New government regulations have also evolved
that now include mandates on certain actions that responders must do at
highway incident scenes. This training module will assist you as a company
officer to better prepare yourself and your crew for safe operations when
working in or near moving traffic.

Introduction:
       The relationship between the topic of Safe Parking and the National Fire
Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System began somewhat innocently with a review
of case studies filed since inception of the Near-Miss program in 2005. Searching
through all the reports using various key search words such as ‘extrication’,
‘highway’, or ‘crash’ produced a list in excess of 300 near-miss case studies. Near
miss situations at highway incidents included factors such as lack of PPE
resulting in fluid in the eyes, rescuers receiving cuts from sharp glass or metal at
extrication scenes, or a frequent near-miss event; firefighters coming into close
proximity to downed wires. There are even several cases reported of combative
patients endangering themselves and responders at highway-related incidents.

       In a somewhat stunning discovery however, of the 300+ near-miss reports
that resulted from the search, a remarkable 33 percent of them were filed because
of problems crews encountered while working in or near moving traffic. In other
words, of all the car crash, vehicle rescue, extrication, or highway-related case
studies that have ever been submitted to the near-miss reporting system, a third
of them involve threats to our safety and survival because we work in or near
moving traffic. Thus, safety while working in or near moving traffic easily makes
it to our top 12 near-miss themes of the year.

       Further analysis of the 100+ case studies involving moving traffic revealed
that there are major categories that these highway near-miss reports fall into.
With only slight variations, the overall theme, important factor or event of each
selected case study fit into one of the following areas;
            Advance Warning-
            Moving Vehicle Drove Through Scene-
            Responder Visibility-
            Responder Struck-
            Crash-damaged Vehicle Not Stabilized-
            The Value of ‘Blocking’ by Responders-
            Responder Vehicle Struck-
            Hazards While Operating In a Zero Buffer-



       Our training program this month will allow you as company officer to
briefly review each of these eight categories with your crew by using a near-miss
report that is typical of each problem area. We want each company officer to
discuss the topic of Advance Warning, our first category, with your crew and
then select at least one, two, or even all of the other categories for further
discussion. Special emphasis is being placed on the category of advance warning
when responders are on-scene because it is a fundamental action that must be in
place every time personnel are working in or near moving traffic. It is also one
action that responders either did not do or did poorly, that contributed to or
triggered many highway-related near-miss events in the first place.

       The national guidelines for proper traffic incident management are
included with the US Department of Transportation, Federal Highway
Administration’s Manual On Uniform Traffic Control Devices. This document,
commonly referred to as the MUTCD, outlines several basic areas that must be
established each and every time you are working in or near moving traffic.
Chapter 6-I specifically references temporary traffic incident management, like
what we do at crash scenes.

Components of a Temporary Traffic Control Zone
      Temporary traffic control zones are divided into five basic areas; the
advance warning area, the transition area, buffer area, the activity area, and the
termination area.
Advance Warning
The advance warning area is the section of highway where road users are
first informed about the incident area they are approaching. Advance
warning may include flashing warning lights on an emergency vehicle to
a series of warning signs, cones, flares, or multiple emergency vehicles
positioned far in advance of the actual highway crash or fire scene. It is
advance warning that makes the approaching motorist aware that there is
a situation ahead and that they must do something different than what
they are currently. They must slow, change lanes, stop, take a detour, or
whatever is required so you can safely work at the scene. It is the advance
warning area of your traffic incident management scene that the motorist
first encounters. Make it a lasting impression.

Transition Area
The Transition Area is that section of highway where traffic is re-directed
out of their normal driving path. Your advance warning let them know
something is up. Now in the transition area, they have to react to your
request for them to change their driving until they are past your scene.
Transitions are done through a process officially known as channelization;
what responders simply call a merge or taper. Fire responders typically
use traffic cones and vehicles to create a ‘merging taper’ to move
approaching traffic through and around our highway incident.

The DOT actually states in section 6C.02 of the MUTCD that temporary
traffic control at incident sites should be designed on the assumption that
drivers will reduce their speeds only if they clearly perceive a need to do
so. That is one reason why advance warning and transition areas have to
extend to such long distances ahead of the incident scene.

Buffer Area
The Buffer area at our temporary traffic incident management scene is the
area that even if things go wrong, we’ll still survive. For responders, there
are actually two buffer areas; one linear and one horizontal. The linear
buffer area is a distance between our blocking emergency vehicle and
where we are working at the incident scene. The distance is measured
parallel to the lanes of traffic. This distance must be large enough and
long enough that if a vehicle were to disregard advance warnings and
drive straight towards the responders on scene, the moving vehicle would
either be stopped within the buffer area or would make enough noise or
commotion to warn the responders as it drives towards the scene.

The other safety area within our buffer area is a horizontal buffer area. It
is the distance between us as we work at the scene and the closest moving
traffic; those cars breezing by us at the scene. If one lane is obstructed by
crash damaged vehicles and the lane next to it is blocked by responder
vehicles, then the horizontal buffer area would be the lanes next to closest
to where we are working. One important section of the horizontal buffer
area is referred to by responders as the ‘zero buffer’. This is the area
where a responder is the closest to moving traffic. This is the area where
responders have the least chance of avoiding being struck and is a high-
risk area.

Both the horizontal and the liner buffer areas are our safety valve when
we work in or near moving traffic. When a vehicle does not respond to
our advance warnings and does not follow our directions within the
transition area, it is this open buffer area, an area free of responders,
where the motorist can make their mistakes without injuring or striking
any of us on the scene.

Activity Area (Work Area)
A critical area at a highway incident that must be safe and protected from
moving traffic is referred to as the Activity Area or Work Area. The Work
Area is the area reserved for emergency response personnel to accomplish
their necessary tasks related to the incident itself; fight the fire, treat the
injured, extricate the trapped.

Termination Area
The Termination Area is the lane or lanes of the roadway where drivers
are allowed to return to their normal travel paths and resume normal
speeds. It begins after the work area, when the motorist is clear of all
personnel and equipment.
Near-Miss Training Highway Safety Categories:
      Now, let’s look at each of the highway-related near-miss categories and
review a representative near-miss case study typical of that category. You’ll be
amazed when you realize that advance warning, the fundamental topic of our
near-miss highway training this month, plays some sort of a role in each and
every one of the categories.

CASE STUDY 1- Moving Vehicle Drove Through Scene-
In this category, near-miss incidents were reported where after responders were
all in place, a wayward motorist essentially drove right through the incident
scene. As an example, let’s look at report number: 08-0000112

Event Description
This incident occurred on the interstate in the eastbound lane. Engine [X] arrived
at the accident site and realized that the vehicles were just past a rise in the
interstate. Oncoming traffic could not see the vehicles until they were very close
to the scene. Engine [X} captain requested that Engine [XX] stage west of the
incident to alert oncoming traffic. Engine {XX] staged west of the incident and
deployed traffic cones and a traffic warning sign in the (fast) left hand lane. The
cones and traffic sign stretched for approximately 500 feet behind Engine [XX].

A motorist looking for the sign to the intestate exit (not looking ahead) ran
through the warning sign and began to hit the cones as he came to a stop
approximately 250 feet behind Engine [XX]. If the warning signs had not been in
place, this motorist would have hit Engine [XX} and possibly the firefighters near
Engine [XX]. As is turned out no personnel were injured and the only thing
damaged beyond repair was the traffic sign.

Commentary:
In this case, the department did an excellent job of realizing the unique challenge
of advance warning when the incident scene is just over the crest of a hill and
actively addressed that problem. When the second-due engine established
advance warning far upstream of the incident, their vehicle, the emergency
vehicle’s warning lights, traffic cones they set out and even their destroyed
deployable sign served their purpose. They did everything right. The
inattentive motorist was alerted to the presence of traffic ahead as he crashed
through the cones and into the deployable sign.

Think about it. What’s the alternative? If it had not been for the advance
warning, this could have been a disastrous incident with a tragic outcome. To
minimize or eliminate moving vehicles from driving through your incident
scene, we need a proper traffic incident management scene. Advance warning,
appropriate transition, adequate buffer space, a protected work area, and a clear
termination area are fundamental. Go with these five all the time and remember,
it all starts with advance warning.

Crew Resource Management Discussion:
As the Company Officer, discuss each of the following points to see if and how
they apply to each case study. For example, in this case study, discuss how
Situational Awareness played a role in the outcome of this incident? These five
components listed comprise the five principles of crew resource management
and are repeated for each case study discussion points.

1) Communication - Formulating ideas, transmitting & receiving information,
interpreting, and providing feedback.



2) Situational Awareness – Awareness of the situation as it actually exists



3) Decision Making – Decisions made during the course of the event that
contributed to the outcome of this case study



4) Teamwork – To accomplish a common training goal a group must work
together, cooperate, and have leaders and followers.



5) Task Allocation – Dividing labor so no task is overlooked, knowing the
strengths and weaknesses of team members, and assigning tasks accordingly




      Note: As you and your crew ask questions and have a discussion about
      this case study or any of the following selected reports, remind the crew
      that the discussion and questions posed are designed to generate positive
      discussion and thought in the name of promoting firefighter safety. They
      are not intended to pass judgment on the actions and performance of
      individuals in the reports.
CASE STUDY 2- Responder Visibility-
In this category are all the near-miss reports that included references to seeing
responders or to what degree responders were or were not visible to the moving
traffic. We must do everything in our power to maximize our visibility when our
feet are on the street. Visibility doesn’t make us bullet-proof, but it gives us the
best chance that approaching motorists will see us on the roadway ahead of
them. A good example is this type of near-miss safety challenge is report
number: 07-0000760.

Event Description
My crew was a little over half way through our shift when we were [alerted] for
a motor vehicle accident. We arrived on scene with an engine and light rescue to
a two vehicle accident on a 4 lane undivided highway. The vehicles were in the
center turn lane with minor damage. I had both apparatus stage in the center
turn lane so we would not have to cross traffic. I asked the driver engineer to set
down some cones in the inside lane to encourage traffic to change lanes to the
outside. As I exited the apparatus and gathered some tools I walked around the
rear of our engine towards the vehicles. I noticed my driver setting out the cones
like I asked, but he did not don his PPE before doing so.

At the time of the accident, it was dark and there were few street lights in the
area. I instructed my driver to don his PPE because vehicles might not see him.
As he set out the last cone and walked to the engine, a car driven by an elderly
man drove at a high rate of speed right over the cones that my driver had just set
down! Had this occurred 5 seconds earlier our department would most likely
have been investigating a LODD.

Commentary:
As a responder to a highway-related incident, it is required that we wear high-
visibility clothing when on foot on the roadway. ANSI-107 Class II vests or
ANSI 207 Class II vests are required to be worn by police, fire, EMS, tow
operators, and anyone else working at the incident.

High visibility garments are only an aid in attempting to avoid being a struck-by
statistic. Vests only suggest that we will be seen by the driver of the moving
traffic. In and of themselves, they do not make us bullet-proof. In our near-miss
case study, the driver failed to see the traffic cones with its reflective stripes.
Who knows if this same motorist would have even seen and avoided a responder
whether they would have been wearing high visibility clothing or not.
Crew Resource Management Discussion:
1) Communication - Formulating ideas, transmitting & receiving information,
interpreting, and providing feedback




2) Situational Awareness – Awareness of the situation as it actually exists




3) Decision Making – Decisions made during the course of the event that
contributed to the outcome of this case study




4) Teamwork – To accomplish a common training goal a group must work
together, cooperate, and have leaders and followers.




5) Task Allocation – Dividing labor so no task is overlooked, knowing the
strengths and weaknesses of team members, and assigning tasks accordingly
CASE STUDY 3- Responder Struck-
Unfortunately not all reports filed as near-miss incidents are actually near
misses. In some situations, firefighters are injured doing the job. Specific to
highway incident scene safety, when a firefighter or other responder is hit by a
moving vehicle, it is referred to as a ‘struck-by’. Some result in injuries; some
result in on-the-job fatalities. To illustrate this point, we will look at a firefighter
struck-by that involved moving traffic but this time, not at a crash scene as we
normally think of. This struck-by occurred on a bread-and-butter call; residential
EMS call. Let’s review report number: 06-0000542

Event Description
Our engine and Brush pumper responded together to a report of a possible heart
attack at a residence in a rural-suburban interface. On arrival, the engine officer
and firefighter disembarked the apparatus and entered the residence with EMS
gear along with the brush pumper operator. The engine operator was left behind
to secure the apparatus and follow us in to assist with patient care.

After we had made entry to the residence, located the patient, and began patient
assessment and treatment, we were alerted by a neighbor that one of the fire
fighters had been hit by a car out by the road. The ambulance crew was entering
the residence at this same time and I left the patient with two crewmembers and
the ALS crew to check on the engine operator. I located him near the roadway
recovering from a prone position and trying to "walk off the pain in his legs and
back." He was adamant that his injuries were minor and everything would be all
right, not to make a big deal out of anything. After questioning the driver, a
witness, and the operator, I decided he would have to be checked at emergency
for severity of injuries. He was sent to the nearest ER for evaluation.

He has been off duty nearly three months now, been through surgery to repair
three fractured discs, and still has to complete rehab on his back and then begin
surgery and rehab on his left knee. This could very well be the last response he
ever makes as a firefighter.

We often overlook infrequent hazards especially when responding to minor or
low risk calls. We have trained extensively on safety for many types of incidents
but we can still be complacent regarding hazards that are not anticipated, such as
traffic hazards on an EMS call. We are prepared for and address traffic hazards
when working on or near roadways as with MVA's but do not really anticipate
getting run over trying to enter a house to provide ALS/BLS services.
At this accident scene, there were three emergency vehicles located next to and
partially on the roadway as there was insufficient room to completely leave the
roadway. Eastbound traffic was stopped by the ambulance and the engine;
westbound traffic had slowed to a walking pace at the front of the residence
because of the lights and activity.

As the last two westbound cars passed by the engine, the engine operator
crossed behind them to enter the residence. He was struck by a pickup traveling
approximately twenty-five miles per hour that had left the roadway to drive
around the vehicles that were blocking his progress. The point of impact
occurred about eight to ten feet off the paved surface in a shallow drainage ditch.
The driver of the pickup stated he could not see anything because of the lights
from the emergency vehicles shining in his eyes and never knew the firefighter
was there until he heard the impact. The pickup was obscured from the engine
operators view by the vehicles on the roadway, his attention was also diverted to
providing access to the waiting ambulance as quickly as possible.

Commentary:
This example of a struck-by is worthy of study on several points. First, the scene
wasn’t a multi-lane superhighway with thousands of vehicles per hour passing
by. It was simply a two lane road in what was described as a rural setting. The
traffic wasn’t rushing by at breakneck speed. The pickup truck that struck the
apparatus driver was going a mere 25 miles per hour. It wasn’t a highway crash
or vehicle fire incident. It was an ill person inside a house who needed medical
attention and transport. It was a medical call in the middle of the night where
darkness takes away our visibility and the sight of the moving traffic as well. The
reporting firefighters states that the incident occurred at 23:00hrs. That’s the
reason that the emergency vehicle’s headlights blinded. It’s a terrible situation
when one of our own go down but it’s even worse when we think that
something we did, as in this case leaving the headlights of the emergency vehicle
ON while parked at the scene, that my have been a contributing factor to this
struck-by.

Another teaching point is that the apparatus driver wasn’t struck while standing
or walking on any part of the roadway. He wasn’t on the blacktop. He wasn’t in
a travel lane at all. He was 8 to 10’ off to the side of this rural road; in a drainage
ditch. Because the pickup truck driver was impatient and used poor judgment by
passing the two cars ahead of him, he struck the firefighter way off the ‘beaten
path’. Teaching point; any time we are working in or NEAR moving traffic, we
are vulnerable to becoming a struck-by statistic.
Finally, we need to think about our feeling of vulnerability. It goes without
question that a typical responder will consider stepping into the path of a vehicle
approaching at 100 miles an hour as suicidal. So what about one traveling 50
miles per hour? Would you be killed or would that speed just cause injuries?
What about in this case, when the vehicle that ran into the apparatus driver was
‘only’ going 25 miles per hour? Does that speed make the situation any less
lethal? The answer, and another teaching point from this near-miss case study, is
that being struck by vehicle at 25 miles per hour has the potential to kill just like
one hitting you at 70 or even 100 miles per hour. In this specific case, the
firefighters’ injuries had the potential to be career-ending. Becoming a struck-by
can kill at any speed!

Crew Resource Management Discussion:
1) Communication - Formulating ideas, transmitting & receiving information,
interpreting, and providing feedback




2) Situational Awareness – Awareness of the situation as it actually exists




3) Decision Making – Decisions made during the course of the event that
contributed to the outcome of this case study




4) Teamwork – To accomplish a common training goal a group must work
together, cooperate, and have leaders and followers.




5) Task Allocation – Dividing labor so no task is overlooked, knowing the
strengths and weaknesses of team members, and assigning tasks accordingly
CASE STUDY 4- Vehicle Not Stabilized-
The next category of highway-related near-miss reports that our search
uncovered all revolved around the theme of a vehicle that was stationary when
responders first arrived on scene, started unexpectedly moving. This can never
be a good thing as we see represented quite clearly in report number: 06-0000511

Event Description
The department was toned for a single vehicle motorcycle accident with injuries.
Upon arrival on scene, the injured party was sitting in a passerby's vehicle on the
shoulder of the road that had stopped to render aid. I assumed command and
updated the incoming ambulance on patient status. Another firefighter from our
department arrived on scene in his personal vehicle (PV), parking uphill of the
incident. The FF failed to put his car in gear or engage the parking brake when
exiting the vehicle. A passing motorist honked their car horn to warn people on
scene that the unoccupied vehicle was rolling into the scene. The car missed a FF
by a few feet and then impacted the vehicle that the patient was sitting in. The
notable jolt of the vehicle could have further injured the patient since manual
spinal immobilization was underway prior to installation of a c-collar. The
rolling vehicle could have struck personnel on scene or rolled into oncoming
traffic.

Commentary:
Who would have ever thought? You ‘assume’ that a stationary vehicle is parked,
right? You assume that the vehicles we need to protect ourselves from when we
talk about struck-by incidents are vehicles that are already moving; coming
towards us while we are at the scene. You just don’t think about being struck by
one of the vehicles at the scene.

What would have made the difference here? What would have changed the
entire incident so that a near-miss never would have occurred? The answer
could be as simple as someone on scene remembering that all vehicles need to be
‘stabilized’; every vehicle, every time.

Stabilizing in this case could have been simply checking to make sure that all
vehicles at the scene are in ‘P’ for Park. Or simply chocking the front and back of
the tires of all vehicles near you and your patients. Or simply making sure the
emergency brake is applied, or the engine is even shut off.

This is not rocket science. This is just good street smart, lessons learned that can
be simple yet can simply make all the difference in the world. No one would
want to have been standing in between these two vehicles. Not me and not you.
Let’s think stabilization of every vehicle, every time as one means of making sure
that none of us ever become a struck-by statistic.

Crew Resource Management Discussion:
1) Communication - Formulating ideas, transmitting & receiving information,
interpreting, and providing feedback




2) Situational Awareness – Awareness of the situation as it actually exists




3) Decision Making – Decisions made during the course of the event that
contributed to the outcome of this case study




4) Teamwork – To accomplish a common training goal a group must work
together, cooperate, and have leaders and followers.




5) Task Allocation – Dividing labor so no task is overlooked, knowing the
strengths and weaknesses of team members, and assigning tasks accordingly
CASE STUDY 5- The Value of ‘Blocking’
We look at a typical near-miss report now that falls under the category of
‘blocking’. Specifically, this report and others related to this theme, reinforces
the value of emergency responders using a vehicle as a blocker. Placing our
vehicle on an angle to block moving traffic, preventing it from traveling in the
blocked lane or lanes and running into our incident scene is what responders did
that may have saved their lives. If you want a reason to justify blocking at
highway incident scenes, take a look at report number: 05-0000679.

Event Description
At approximately 1126 hours, on Oct. 8th, an engine company was dispatched to
a motor vehicle accident on an interstate highway. On arrival, they spotted the
apparatus between the incident location and approaching traffic. Because they
had responded from the far west side of their district, they arrived after the
ambulance and highway patrol. The ambulance had assessed patient care needs,
and determined there were no injuries. Additionally, a highway patrol officer
approached the apparatus and notified them of a hydraulic oil spill on the
roadside immediately on their arrival.

The engine crew exited the apparatus and approached the accident scene to
disable the battery and insure no other safety concerns existed at the scene. They
had moved approximately 20 feet from the apparatus when a loud crash
attracted their attention. A tan SUV lost control on the oil spill and collided with
the back of the engine. The engine crew immediately initiated medical care for
the occupants of the SUV. One adult male was transported by ambulance, one
juvenile male was transported by air, and a female was pronounced deceased at
the scene by medical personnel. The force of the impact was severe enough to
move the 26 ton engine approximately 3 feet forward, and extensively damaged
the apparatus.

Commentary:
It is not that we want our apparatus to be run into but consider the alternative.
When a ‘blocker’ gets hit, that means that moving traffic disregarded all our
advance warning, and all our transition signals such as cones or flares, and
plowed right towards where we were working. If it had not been for the blocker,
that same moving vehicle would have run right into the work area with
potentially tragic results.
We cannot safely do our job out on the streets, roadway or highways in our
districts when we have no protection. Cones, flares, and warning lights only
suggest what you want the approaching motorist to do. Blocks reinforce that
message.

Crew Resource Management Discussion:
1) Communication - Formulating ideas, transmitting & receiving information,
interpreting, and providing feedback




2) Situational Awareness – Awareness of the situation as it actually exists




3) Decision Making – Decisions made during the course of the event that
contributed to the outcome of this case study




4) Teamwork – To accomplish a common training goal a group must work
together, cooperate, and have leaders and followers.




5) Task Allocation – Dividing labor so no task is overlooked, knowing the
strengths and weaknesses of team members, and assigning tasks accordingly
CASE STUDY 6- Responder Vehicle Struck-
As we look further into blocking vehicles being struck, we see that this event,
although it has protected the responders from the vehicle that just crashed into
the blocker, now challenges responders as well. You now have a secondary
collision and most importantly, it is outside of your protected area. Let’s look at
how responders should deal with this challenge as we review report number: 07-
0001119.

Event Description
Pumper [X] responded to a motor vehicle collision on a state highway in front of
a college. Pumper [X] arrived on scene spotting the apparatus in the lane of
traffic behind the two involved vehicles, which were pulled onto the shoulder of
the road. The weather was clear and dry and drivers coming toward the scene
were looking into the rising sun. The apparatus still had emergency lights on and
all occupants were out of it, providing patient care. A police car had been parked
behind the fire truck, but had cleared for another call. There was a loud crash
behind the apparatus. A passenger car struck a glancing blow to the truck on the
driver's side before coming to a stop next to the truck. The occupant appeared to
be on his cell phone as the car stopped. Had the truck not been parked where it
was the car would've struck all three crew members who were working in front
of the apparatus. [Squared brackets indicate editing by the reviewer]

Commentary:
The car with the distracted driver has crashed into the engine on the upstream or
approach side of the incident scene. As this event occurs, you realize you are
uninjured but you also realize that you also have another new crash to deal with.
Part of that challenge is that when you go to the vehicle that just rammed your
blocking apparatus, you are on the upstream side of the incident and are now
exposed.

To deal with this situation, you need to immediately assign resources to create a
new protected area. You need to extend the advance warning further upstream
and you need a vehicle to physically be positioned as a new blocker for you and
your crew. Easier said than done in most cases. Consider how you will deal
with the challenge of ‚the block gets hit‛ and have a mental preplan in mind that
you will use if this ever were to happen while you are working in or near moving
traffic.
Crew Resource Management Discussion:
1) Communication - Formulating ideas, transmitting & receiving information,
interpreting, and providing feedback




2) Situational Awareness – Awareness of the situation as it actually exists




3) Decision Making – Decisions made during the course of the event that
contributed to the outcome of this case study




4) Teamwork – To accomplish a common training goal a group must work
together, cooperate, and have leaders and followers.




5) Task Allocation – Dividing labor so no task is overlooked, knowing the
strengths and weaknesses of team members, and assigning tasks accordingly
CASE STUDY 7- Operating In a Zero Buffer
We mention earlier that there is a portion of our buffer area at a crash scene
called the ‘zero buffer’. It is responder killer if personnel do not know how to
identify it and do not know how to avoid entering it. Typical of this safety
challenge is near-miss report number: 05-0000353.

Event Description
At an emergency medical incident on the side of an interstate highway. The
paramedic had exited the ambulance and was attempting to get back into his
vehicle when he was nearly struck by a vehicle traveling in the right lane. This
lane had been blocked by another jurisdiction when the paramedic arrived. The
blocking vehicle had cleared the scene before the paramedic or ambulance.

Commentary:
 The action of getting out of an emergency vehicle arriving at a crash scene
should be considered high risk. Likewise, getting into that same vehicle or
getting equipment out of compartments are potential struck-by situations.

You need to make sure that you are not getting out into a zero buffer. If you are
then can you go out a different door? When going to open a compartment to get
stuff to use at the scene, are you safe? Are you protected? If not, then get a
buddy to assist. Get someone to spot you and be your eyes in the back of your
head. Be smart and void the zero buffer. It can be a killer!

Crew Resource Management Discussion:
1) Communication - Formulating ideas, transmitting & receiving information,
interpreting, and providing feedback



2) Situational Awareness – Awareness of the situation as it actually exists



3) Decision Making – Decisions made during the course of the event that
contributed to the outcome of this case study



4) Teamwork – To accomplish a common training goal a group must work
together, cooperate, and have leaders and followers.
5) Task Allocation – Dividing labor so no task is overlooked, knowing the
strengths and weaknesses of team members, and assigning tasks accordingly




Company-level Training Assignment:
As company officer, you have studied and discussed several of these highway
near-miss incidents. It is now an appropriate time to work with your crews and
review your department’s protocols for operating in or near moving traffic.

Review your highway safety SOP or SOG now that you have seen and studied
eight specific areas where hazards and safety risks have already been
documented in the near-miss reporting system. Review it for accuracy and up-to-
date information. Also of special importance, review your department’s SOP or
SOG to see how compliance with it would have helped prepare you and your
crew if you ever were to encounter any of the situations that were present with
those responders who survived a highway near-miss incident.

If your department or agency does not have a protocol for highway safety
operations, use the following document as a guide to begin formulating a
department-specific policy.

				
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