Every day (on average across the nation) 3 responders are struck and injured at the scene of a roadside emergency that they have been dispatched to, some suffering life-long, career-ending injuries. As if those injuries are not sobering enough, as of February 17, six responders have been struck and killed by a passing motorist in 2021. (In 2019, 44 emergency responders were struck and killed, and in 2020, 46 were struck & killed – including two Pennsylvania responders; Paramedic Matthew Smelser (43) and firefighter/tow operator Tyler Laudenslager (29).
As an agency that responds to hundreds of incidents that occur on roadways (traffic accidents and medical emergencies), these struck by incidents concern us. We, like all responders, just want to go home at the end of our shift. And we believe the key to reducing these tragedies is educating the motoring public.
On April 27, 2021, Pennsylvania’s Move Over law goes into effect. This law, an updated, enhanced version of an existing Steer Clear law, provides for a number of deterrent consequences that the previous law did not address, such as a directive to move over at least one full lane of travel when passing an accident or work scene, and to slow down at least 20 mph below the posted speed limit. But a law cannot truly prevent these tragedies. It is an action by the motorist that is required.
Northwest EMS Community Outreach Manager, Lori Shenk, who also serves as co-chair of the Public Education and Outreach Committee for PennTIME (Pennsylvania’s Traffic Incident Management Enhancement team), has been working with responders and state and local officials across the Commonwealth on awareness and education initiatives. One of those initiatives is the production of a state-wide Public Service Announcement (PSA) to be released in advance of the law’s implementation. The hope is that the PSA will promote awareness of these tragedies and encourage practical application by motorists to SLOW DOWN and MOVE OVER as they pass these working scenes.
On Saturday, March 27, the Manheim Auto Auction (Penn Township) will be the sight of filming of the PSA where dozens of responders from all disciplines will bring more than 100 pieces of apparatus. This is a production event and is not open to the public and an opportunity to pay tribute to our peers who have tragically lost their lives in a struck/killed incident, as well as an opportunity to honor those responders who have been struck and injured. Most importantly, it is an opportunity to create an impactful message that we hope will save lives. Once filming is complete and the PSA is ready for release, we hope to reach every citizen of the Commonwealth with our message to SLOW DOWN and MOVE OVER when passing a scene where responders are working. The PSA will be made available for sharing through various digital, media and social media platforms, and graphics and messaging will be displayed on billboards and electronic sign boards across the state.
Slow Down and Move Over is more than a slogan. It’s a cry for response and a call to action. WE ALL JUST WANT TO GO HOME AT THE END OF OUR SHIFT!
For more information contact our Community Outreach Manager, Lori Shenk, at 717-371-8282 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.