Just An Observation: Closure is being left as the only option

Given two more deaths of emergency responders, safety must be placed over drivers’ inconvenience

To alter a line from a widely popular reality show, “closure may be the only option.”

For those that recognize which show that paraphrased quote comes from, you likely already know the road this discussion will be taking.

However, for those who don’t, you may be contributing to the problem I’ll be focusing on and not even realize it.

In the last couple of weeks, a pair of incidents have been top of mind for anyone that responds to motor vehicle incidents along our country’s roads and highways. And it belies a rather disturbing and continuing trend that needs to be halted in its tracks now.

What I’m talking about is the apparent lack of care for — or simply just ignorance — the safety of people who are out there to assist people in need.

Less than two weeks ago, a B.C. tow truck driver was struck and killed while attempting to help a motorist stranded on a highway. That was followed last week by the death of a firefighter in western Saskatchewan who was struck by a semi-trailer unit as he was responding at an accident scene.

In both cases, there were emergency lights and vehicles at the scene, yet the two men were still hit with fatal consequences.

Like Alberta, both of those provinces have laws concerning what other drivers must do when traversing the scene where police, fire, ambulances AND tow trucks have their lights operating — with hefty fines and other penalties for not obeying them.

Yet, as has been the case all too often, we are once again left with just the grief and the question as to why these things happen instead of these people being able to get back to their jobs, families and friends.

Which is why I pose the query that maybe completely closing the road at an incident ‘should’ be the only option now.

Close it

As one who has been at accident scene far too often to mention, I’ve witnessed the extremely close calls that took place because drivers either didn’t slow down or were far more interested in being a lookie-loo than watching where they were going.

Fortunately, I’ve never seen anyone hit, injured or killed as a result — though a few vehicles would likely find a dent or two somewhere after they got to where they were headed.

However despite the campaigns, the road signs and the potential penalties, it seems the message remains lost among many people that get behind the wheel these days — all seemingly in a hurry to shave 20 seconds off their travel time.

There was a statement used by emergency services applied when given the chance to speak to these types, most when wondering why they didn’t pull over and let them through.

“What if it was one of your family or friends they are going to help?” Now doesn’t even elicit more than a shoulder shrug from most people.

Worse yet, there is a segment of the population that spouts obscenities at emergency responders or complains that they pay their salaries and should be able to do what they want without consequence. It’s this entitled, me-first-at-any-cost attitude being exhibited that brings me to the only logical conclusion.

To keep all first responders safe, close the road and drivers can either wait it out or detour.

How many more tow truck drivers, firefighters, police officers and emergency medical personnel should have to place their lives on the line when tending to accidents or stranded motorists?

Those of us who do that work know the dangers involved in performing other aspects of the job that, in theory, are far more life-threatening situations than being on a highway for an accident.

Unfortunately, going in to a burning building to rescue people or staring down a career criminal bent on firing a bullet into your head are quickly becoming preferable to attending a roadway car crash.

So, maybe it’s time to inconvenience people for the sake of saving lives.

But that is…just an observation.

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