Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE F2010-36, 2012 Jan; :1-25
On November 13, 2010 a 23-year-old career fire fighter (Victim) was struck and killed by a car while at the scene of a grass fire along a four lane, east-west, interstate highway. The highway was divided by a grassy, and in places underbrush-covered, median. A passing motorist saw the fire burning in the median and reported it to 911 who notified the local fire department. An engine (E24), and a quint (E4), were dispatched to the scene. E24 arrived ahead of E4 and parked next to the median straddling the fog line and pulling into the passing lane to provide a protected work area for the fire fighters. E4 arrived one minute later and parked west of E24 pulling toward the guardrail to provide a traffic block. At the same time, a car and a van were travelling eastbound toward the parked fire apparatus. Both vehicles were in the passing lane when the van hit the back of the car. Following the collision, the van drove on the shoulder of the passing lane and stopped before reaching E4. The car travelled onto the left shoulder of the highway passing between both apparatus and the guardrail before striking the two fire fighters. The injured fire fighter was thrown into the median by the impact and suffered critical injuries but survived. The victim landed on the road shoulder. Fire fighters who were on the scene initiated patient care measures immediately. The victim was transported to a local trauma center and despite resuscitative efforts, he was pronounced dead. Contributing Factors: 1. An errant vehicle was able to enter into a roadway emergency work zone and strike fire fighters who were attending to an emergency incident. 2. There was minimal time for the victim to react and protect himself from the oncoming vehicle due to its speed and his position at the scene. Key Recommendations: 1. Develop pre-incident plans regarding response protocols, scene safety, and traffic control for roadway emergency work zones in conjunction with public safety agencies, traffic management organizations and private sector responders. 2. Develop, train on, and enforce standard operating procedures (SOPs) for roadway incidents that include response protocols for all possible types, locations, and durations of emergency roadway incidents that may occur within the department's jurisdiction. 3. Ensure that all members receive training for responding to roadway incidents, with specific instruction on positioning apparatus to protect emergency workers from oncoming traffic. 4. Develop and train members on a situational awareness program that addresses hazards specific to working in a roadway emergency work zone.