By Liz Beck
Pembina County 911 Coordinator
Every day, emergency responders put their lives at risk every time they’re dispatched to traffic incidents on our roadways. Emergency Response agencies within Pembina County are being invited to participate in one of several Traffic Incident Management (TIM) trainings being held throughout this summer. The goal of the training is to ensure the safety of responders, the travelling public, and narrow the time from the initial crash to clearing the scene.
Responders are taught to maintain situational awareness so they don’t become an incident or casualty while responding to an accident. Crashes that occur within the incident scene resulting from an original incident are called “secondary crashes”. Both civilians and responders die every day from secondary crashes, in fact they represent 20% of crashes nationwide, and 18% of those are fatal. Class instructor Jeremy Mattison said “one in our class was hit by a semi while in his patrol car, and he’s lucky to be alive.”
People may not realize it, but about 60 tow operators are struck and killed each year. Brian Kiner of BK Towing and Repair, participated in the training as well. When approaching a scene where emergency responders or a tow operator is present, he encourages people to “move over one lane, and slow down. Those 30 seconds could change your life, instead of a lifetime of regret. People who hit and kill someone remember it for the rest of their lives.” In North Dakota, “Move over laws” require drivers approaching a scene where emergency responders are present to either change lanes when possible and/or reduce vehicle speed.
The types of drivers who cause crashes and kill responders in the line of duty have been termed as “D” Drivers. These are Drunk, Drugged, Drowsy, Distracted, or Just Plain….Dense. According to the National Safety Council, using a cell phone while driving is equivalent to driving impaired. Texting while driving is equivalent to driving blindfolded. Be aware of your surroundings, and drive defensively.
All participating agencies are being taught good communications and coordination at the accident scene. “The interaction between all agencies is really the key to this training,” said Mattison. This training provides agencies with the tools they need to work together. “We are encouraging fire, ems, law enforcement, towing companies, and DOT (State and County) to attend.”
The next TIM Course will be held in Walhalla on Wednesday June 29th at 6:00 PM at the Walhalla Fire Department.