FF-medic hit by car says firefighters fear highways more than fire
Fort Worth Firefighter-Paramedic Shonna Moorman says she's facing a "very long recovery" and plans to campaign for highway safety for first responders
Domingo Ramirez Jr.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
FORTH WORTH, Texas — Fort Worth Firefighter-Paramedic Shonna Moorman had one thought going through her mind seconds after she stepped onto a highway at an accident scene on Dec. 31 — “Run.”
She wasn’t fast enough.
The 20-year veteran of the department was hit by a vehicle, and she became another one of the hundreds of first responders injured each year on highways in Texas and across the United States.
“I heard the brakes lock up,” Moorman said Thursday afternoon at Fort Worth Station 11 in Justin. “I saw it (the vehicle) over my shoulder.”
From a wheelchair, Moorman talked about the accident Thursday for the first time at a news conference at her home fire station.
The station is less than a mile from where the accident occurred on Texas 114 just south of the Texas Motor Speedway about three weeks ago.
Moorman survived after suffering serious injuries to her left leg. She spent a week in a local hospital.
“It’s been very difficult,” said Moorman, who has had two surgeries on her leg that was crushed and cut. “It’s going to be a very long recovery.”
Fire officials are reviewing the early morning accident to see if anything could have been done to prevent it. Moorman was walking around the front of her fire engine when she was hit by a passenger vehicle. The driver who hit Moorman stopped immediately.
“Afterwards, I reached out to him and told him I was OK,” Moorman said. “He was very upset and distraught.”
Two fire trucks typically respond to major accidents in Fort Worth — one provides the protection for the crew working the scene. Moorman and the crew from Station 11 had arrived first and the second truck was just seconds away.
“She did everything possible to prevent what happened,” said fire department spokesman Mike Drivdahl.
Moorman said she has talked to several firefighters since the accident and they have a concern with vehicles.
“It’s not fires that scare them as much anymore,” she said. “It’s highways.”
Moorman noted that she checked for traffic on that morning as she stepped off the fire truck, and checked a second time.
“We are taught from day one, safety,” she said. “Make sure our scene is safe.”
‘Move over or slow down’ law
Fire officials noted seven first responders in this country have been hit by vehicles in the first 14 days of 2020.
Drivers are still “flying by” even though Texas law requires that motorists change lanes or slow down when they approach emergency vehicles, the veteran firefighter said.
Moorman said she and crews are just focused on helping the injured.
“(Fire) engineers are out there all the time waving their hands to try and get people to slow down,” she said.
In the last 10 years, four Fort Worth firefighters have been hit and injured by vehicles while at the scene of a traffic accident in the city, according to fire officials.
“Even one first responder being hit on the road while providing service is too many,” said Fort Worth Fire Chief Jim Davis in a news release. “Motorists need to move over and slow down when emergency vehicles are responding or stopped while working an incident.”
Statistics show drivers have not slowed down. In 2018, an estimated 14,425 collisions were reported in the United States involving fire department vehicles responding to or returning from incidents, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
In this country, an estimated 58,520 firefighters were injured in 2018 in the line of duty, according to the NFPA. Of those, 4,150 were injured while responding to or returning from an incident. Another 22,950 were injured at non-fire emergency incidents or other on-duty activities.
As for Moorman, she plans on making a full recovery, and campaigning for safety for first responders such as firefighters, police officers and tow truck drivers working scenes on highways.
“It was an accident. Nobody leaves their house thinking this is going to happen,” she said. “All I want to do is be a firefighter and paramedic.”
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