On May 12, Atlanta firefighter Sgt. Darrow Harden lost one leg and had his other mangled when he was struck by a vehicle stepping out of his fire truck to assist at a roadside crash. The accident, which happened along Interstate 85 in Atlanta, occurred when the driver of the Pontiac G5 lost control of the vehicle and it barreled into Harden and the fire truck, the fire department said in a statement.
Accidents like this are not uncommon. Just two months prior, an off-duty Colorado firefighter was sent to the hospital with serious injuries after he was hit by a car responding to a roadside incident on Interstate 70.
While responder roadside injuries and fatalities have long been an issue, these incidents seem to be more common than ever as drivers become increasingly distracted by their electronic devices, John Montes writes in his Responder Column in the May/June NFPA Journal. At least 10 firefighters were struck and killed by vehicles in 2017, a big uptick from historical averages, according to NFPA data.
In Montes’s column, he lays out his own experiences with roadside close calls, and why there should be a renewed effort to train members on how to safely navigate responses on busy roads. With drivers distracted more than ever, roadside safety needs to become a higher priority for all responders, Montes writes.