As roadways become more congested and drivers are more distracted, the safety of our first responders and roadway workers must become a priority to our communities. As of October 17, 2020, 39 roadway responders including Law Enforcement officers, Firefighters, EMS personnel, construction workers and tow truck drivers have been killed in struck-by incidents in the United States according to ResponderSafety.com. Many more have sustained serious injuries.
So what can we do to keep our roadway responders safe? Local firefighter Brady Robinette recently published an article in Fire Engineering magazine exploring the options of a roadway helmet. Brady is a 13 year firefighter for Wolfforth Fire and EMS and also currently serves as a Lieutenant for Lubbock Fire Rescue. After the Lubbock community suffered the loss of Lieutenant Eric Hill, Police Officer Nicholas Reyna and Firefighter Matt Dawson was critically injured in a January 2020 struck-by incident on Interstate 27, Firefighter Robinette began talks with industry leaders, research institutions and helmet manufacturers. “Firefighters need a helmet specifically designed for the hazards at the roadway. The hazards a roadway presents are drastically different than when fighting fire. I hope this article sheds light on the issue and helps affect change” says Robinette.
The article titled “Roadway Incident Operations: What is the right helmet for the job?” highlights the lack of roadway helmet standards and addresses the issues with using current structural fire helmets at roadway incidents. The article calls for standards to be developed for a helmet specific to roadway incidents that would offer better protection for all roadway responders. Robinette says, “In addition to firefighters, I would like to see law enforcement, EMS, tow truck operators, DOT, and all workers on the roadway wearing a helmet specifically designed for the type of hazards a struck-by event poses.”
Based on current research of struck-by events, Wolfforth Fire and EMS has explored options of helmets currently on the market that are more properly designed to protect responders at roadway incidents. Wolfforth Fire Chief Lance Barrett plans to have his department in a helmet used by specialty fire teams that perform search and rescue type operations while working roadway incidents in the near future. “Through the research Brady has done and our experience in the field, we know that a structural fire helmet is not made for the type of conditions and hazards seen on roadways. We want to ensure that our department is using equipment that offers the best protection while working roadway scenes” says Chief Barrett.
Firefighter Brady Robinette’s article can be found in the October 2020 issue of Fire Engineering magazine. “Since 1877, Fire Engineering has been training America’s fire service. We’re America’s oldest and most authoritative source for saving lives and property. Each magazine article is written by a fire service professional with hands-on experience in the subject. Every article published provides information that can save lives when every second counts – and presents new information that is immediately actionable.” (www.fireengineering.com)
Firefighter Robinette says, “My first and immediate goal is to hopefully convince fire departments across the nation to adopt a more suitable helmet for roadway use from ones on the market today. My second goal is to work with manufactures, research institutions, and standards bodies to develop a specifically designed roadway helmet for emergency responders.”
The full article can be found at https://www.fireengineering.com