LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Within a year of a crash that killed two first responders and critically injured another, Lubbock Fire Rescue has taken steps to keep its personnel more secure when responding to crashes. Another tactic is in development.
“We can’t sit there and allow tragedies to happen,” Lt. Phillip Grandon said. “We have to figure out how can we prevent this from happening later. So, we had to update our procedures.”
Grandon told KCBD a traffic safety committee formed shortly after the January 11, 2020 crash. It was tasked with researching protocols other fire departments around the nation follow while working accident scenes.
“We updated our procedures based on the roadways that we go on,” Grandon said. “The major thing we did was increase our response on the major thoroughfares and high-speed roadways.”
For instance, if a crash occurs on roadways such as Interstate 27, the Marsha Sharp Freeway or Highway 84, two engines and a ladder truck will respond to form a blocking system.
“The first engine that gets there is going to block the immediate accident,” Grandon said. “The second one is going to come up behind them to create a protected area. That third unit, if they’re not needed on that side of the road, their main objective is to go the other direction and block that oncoming lane.”
A vehicle crossing the median from oncoming traffic is what struck Officer Nicholas Reyna, Lt. Eric Hill and Firefighter Matt Dawson.
LFR is also in the process, according to Lt. Grandon, of acquiring specialized helmets for all of its crews when responding to traffic accidents, which have been researched by a member of the local department.
“He was able to figure out that this particular helmet can stay on your head if you have some type of blunt trauma that throws you,” Grandon said. “Every member of the fire department is getting one of these helmets very soon. We will be using these on traffic accidents instead of our normal structural firefighter helmets.”
Even after implementing the new protocols, Grandon says crews have still experienced near-misses by vehicles while working. Some of LFR’s apparatus have been struck. It goes to show that the public also bears much responsibility in keeping our first responders safe.
“We need the public’s help on this,” Grandon said. “You have to do your part. Put the phones down. Take a little time. Pay attention to us: police, EMS, roadway workers, whoever you see out there. Just try to have some empathy for us.”
During the week marking a year since the January 11th crash, public safety agencies will be publishing PSAs on their social media platforms.
- Tuesday: LPD - distracted driving
- Wednesday: TxDOT - driving safe during inclement weather
- Thursday: LFR - Move Over, Slow Down
- Friday: DPS & LSO - impaired driving
- Saturday: EMS - driving safely around and through an accident scene