On behalf of The Frickey Law Firm, posted on Thursday, November 29, 2012.
Colorado police officers, fire and medical crews face life and death situations every day. The danger is not limited to victims of crime, fires or auto accidents. Unsafe conditions also exist for emergency personnel, who are struck down in pedestrian accidents by negligent drivers.
Motorists who are self-absorbed or distracted by a crash scene hit more than a dozen responders in the state each year. Risks multiply for rescue crews during rush hours, especially when seasonal storms add challenges like slick or snow-covered roads.
Emergency teams are trained to cope with hazardous conditions, but threats to personal safety can become secondary. Responders are trained to cope with critical situations that don’t necessarily include self-protection.
To combat on-the-job injuries, firefighters over the last 30 years developed a safety plan for workers known as L.C.E.S. – lookout, communication, escape route and safety zone. Each element of the plan is meant to protect employees as they perform life-saving duties.
A designated lookout monitors responders as they work and traffic as it approaches and passes an accident scene. The lookout ensures that rescuers don’t accidentally move into traffic and warns critical care workers when traffic conditions are dangerous.
Lookouts are responsible for communicating warnings to workers with shouts that are audible throughout the crash site. In some cases, radios are used to dispatch information including how employees should use escape routes to access safety zones.
Emergency personnel may be expected to move to the shoulder of a road when a traffic incident occurs. Sometimes the best protection involves paramedics leaping behind a guardrail, rocks or a tree. Emergency vehicles may also be positioned to prevent traffic from crossing into an active work area.
Measures like L.C.E.S. help protect emergency workers, but don’t always provide enough security to prevent needless injuries and deaths. Responders can pursue legal action to recover expenses, like medical bills or lost wages, when they are harmed by negligence while responding to an accident.
Source: ems1.com, “L.C.E.S. for car accident scenes,” Steve Whitehead, Nov. 19, 2012