Monday, February 25, 2008

The Blue Light Special

A firefighter, responding in his personal vehicle, is seriously injured when he swerves to avoid a truck at an intersection and skids into a city bus...

A volunteer EMS responder is killed in a car crash on his way to the Fire Station for a cardiac call...

Perhaps you've read about such accidents in an emergency services publication. On the other hand, maybe one of them hit closer to home, and the story made your local newspaper. Either way, the news isn't good. According to the NFPA, fire department emergency vehicles were involved in an estimated 14,900 collisions in 2001 while responding to, or returning from, incidents. Firefighters' personal vehicles were involved in 1,325 collisions. Together, they resulted in 1,100 firefighter injuries.

24 firefighters - 17 of whom died in crashes - were killed in 2001 while responding to or returning from alarms: the second most common activity resulting in firefighter fatalities.According to U.S. Fire Administration statistics, nearly 20–25% of accidental deaths in the fire service are related to vehicles, and many, if not most, of these accidents involve intersections. A study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine (December 2002), “Occupational Fatalities in Emergency Medical Services: A Hidden Crisis,” states the leading cause of occupational fatalities for EMS personnel during the study period (1992–1997) was transportation incidents (86/114 fatalities).

Section 375, subsection 41, sub-subsection 4 of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law reads as such:

4. Blue light. a. One blue light may be affixed to any motor vehicle
owned by a volunteer member of a fire department or on a motor vehicle
owned by a member of such person's family residing in the same household
or by a business enterprise in which such person has a proprietary
interest or by which he or she is employed....

That's right.  The good people in Albany, New York say that ONE blue light is allowed.  Not two, not blue and white, just ONE, BLUE light.  The law hasn't changed in more than 20 years.  Makes me feel like a kid again:

"Oh, please Mr. Lawmaker, gimme just one more light? Pretty please?!"

Well.... I hope you all join me in thanking our thoughtful lawmakers in Albany, and others like them for looking out for guys and gals like me, who may not make it to the next call because of the one light limitation.  Thanks for caring. Really. My wife and kids thank you too.  

And as for my brothers and sisters, lets be careful out there. I, for one, care about you. 

OK. Gotta go put my kids to sleep now. It's light's out time. Night night. 

No comments: