6 characteristics of en route crashes

Discuss these ambulance crash characteristics with your department's emergency vehicle operators

This article originally appeared in the April 26, 2018 issue of the Paramedic Chief Leadership Briefing. To read the full briefing, visit Emergency vehicle ops - 50k diabetic calls - Post-MCI resilience

Deputy Casey L. Shoemate was killed in a head-on collision in central Missouri last Friday.

What happened: The crash report said Shoemate, 26, driving a 2014 Dodge Charger, struck another vehicle head-on while going south. Shoemate, responding to a 911 call at 5:50 p.m., had his emergency lights and sirens on and was attempting to pass a fire truck on the highway when he hit a northbound SUV.

According to Missouri State Highway Patrol, Shoemate was trying to go around the fire truck, which was responding to an unrelated call and did not have its emergency lights or siren on.

Emergency vehicle response reminders

There is much I don’t know about the tragic death of Deputy Shoemate and the serious injury to the SUV driver, including the weather and road conditions, the nature of the police and fire response, and if there was communication between the deputy and the fire apparatus driver.

While waiting for a full investigation what reminders would you give your emergency vehicle drivers? Here’s what I would discuss with EMTs, paramedics and other emergency vehicle operators:

  • Follow state traffic laws and local emergency vehicle policies to operate with due regard.
  • Never assume any driver, even another emergency responder, has seen your approach and is pulling to the right.
  • Be very cautious about hand signals or radio communications - actual or implied - to or from a fire apparatus or police cruiser that’s overtaking the ambulance.
  • Lights and sirens have a minimal impact on patient outcomes.

En route collisions characteristics

Two firefighters were killed and three were hurt when their fire truck crashed en route to a fatal vehicle crash scene in late March. This crash is also under investigation. En route collisions with fatalities or injuries reported on EMS1, FireRescue1 and PoliceOne have most or all of these characteristics:

  1. Red lights and sirens activated.
  2. Driving above posted speed limits.
  3. Inexperienced driver.
  4. Fatigued, distracted or impaired driver.
  5. Vehicle leaves the roadway.
  6. Unrestrained driver or passengers.

What reminders will you give your emergency vehicle drivers? 

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