Should Police and Firefighters Wear Seatbelts?

How many of us have told our children, husbands/wife or friends; “Wear Your Seatbelt” or “Is your seatbelt on?”
In case you missed it (yes, sarcasm purposefully implied), it’s dangerous when police or firefighters ride in an emergency response vehicle without wearing a seatbelt!
Don’t believe me, or too stubborn to listen. Here are the facts.

At least 42% of police officers killed in vehicle crashes over the past three decades were not wearing seat belts or other safety restraints…
Fatal traffic incidents in 2010 were the leading cause of officer deaths for the 13th straight year.
“Motor vehicle crashes are the second-leading cause of firefighter fatalities in the United States and this effort aims to reduce the number of preventable fatalities,” said Chief Ronald J. Siarnicki, Executive Director of the NFFF
The National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that, fatal vehicle accidents involving officers have been steadily rising, from 29% of the total fatalities in the 1980s to 50% or more in recent years.

For First Responders, Now For Some Good News
Over the past 12 months or so it seems to me that people are finally “getting it.” It seems that excuses are beginning to run thin. The adage “If you don’t get to the call, you can’t help anyone.” is taking hold. I have collected several reports and articles that I feel are spot on by leading the conversation and moving in the right direction. Have look and I look forward to your comments.

Management has gotten serious, case in point: FDNY seatbelt initiative increases firefighter safety – FDNY amped up its seatbelt efforts, retrofitting older fire apparatus with Ready Reach seatbelt systems[1], ordering new units with the belts already installed, and delivering internal “Buckle Up” training.
The department shared with FIRE CHIEF this video, which features Commissioner Salvatore Cassano, Safety Chief Steve Raynis and others explaining the importance of seatbelt use. Also, Lt. Mike Wilbur details the Ready Reach system. Video Link
From the FAAC – Drivers Safety and Training Blog – Aggressive reporting and writing that discussed the importance of maintaining fresh content in professional driver training programs “The Great Seatbelt Lie”
A true to life (saving) story – “If not for yourself, than for your families and for your chosen profession.”  The Bottom Line on Seat Belts for Law Enforcers
From Buckle Up! So Everyone Goes Home ®,some very encouraging news “After five years, over 850 departments and 150,000 firefighters have signed the National Fire Service Seatbelt Pledge and committed to wearing their seatbelts.”  International First Responder Seatbelt Pledge
Video – Watch it and share it with everyone you work with!  We’ve Heard All The Excuses

Driving a Emergency Response Vehicle is Dangerous, Still Not Convinced
If you or someone you work with STILL is not convinced please take a couple of minutes and read this report. It may save your life.

Volunteer Fire Fighter Dies After Being Ejected From Front Seat of Engine

 

Public Safety Training. Stay Connected and Informed
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[1] – No product endorsement is intended or implied.

Fire Apparatus Drivers Program

The DPSST Regional Fire Section is no stranger to remote delivery and over the last ten years has purchased a number of training props that can be moved around the state to assist with the needs of the Oregon Fire Service. The latest addition to the Oregon Fire Training toolbox is the Skid Avoidance for Fire Apparatus Drivers (SAFAD) Program. As designed, the program is similar to that used by the law enforcement community with the noticeable difference between the Fire Service and that of law enforcement training being the use of a Ford F-650 crew cab truck with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) rating up to 24,000 pounds instead of the police package sedan. The concept of the program started several years ago and came together towards the end of 2008 and early 2009 as a result of several tragic accidents involving Oregon Fire Service drivers. As with law enforcement emergency vehicle operation course (EVOC), the foundation of the Fire Service Program is a sound base of training that emphasizes the dynamics or performance characteristics of the vehicle, an awareness of the space occupied by the vehicle and how this impacts the overall environment, taking into consideration driving conditions.

Driver/Apparatus Operator Competency

Once the base knowledge, skills and abilities have been established or identified through such standards as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Driver/Apparatus Operator Competency, the SAFAD curriculum provides the actual hands on experience to support and reinforce the base training.

In designing the program the goal was established to provide each attending operator the psychomotor skills and mental attitudes that are essential to becoming the most competent, skillful and responsible driver possible. Overall, the program performance objective is to reduce Oregon’s statistical numbers in the national list of accidents and injuries. In the past 12 years, 16 Oregon firefighters were killed in vehicle crashes while on duty.

SKIDCAR Systems

To deliver the training, various solutions were considered, with DPSST ultimately choosing SKIDCAR Systems. The SKIDCAR System consists of two hydraulic platforms mounted to the front and rear axles of the truck. An instructor who is seated next to the driver adjusts the grip using a computer that is slaved to the hydraulic platforms. The instructor is able to create and repeat circumstances where it is possible for the driver to lose control, experience common roadway hazards, and do so at low speeds with no physical risk to the driver, instructor, or equipment.

See the full article here
Article from: DPSST November 2012 Newsletter, Volume 1 Issue 3
Department of Public Safety, Standards & Training, 4190 Aumsville Hwy SE Salem, OR 97317

Police and Fire Training on a Budget

Police and Fire departments, municipalities, insurance companies, and private driver training companies are searching for an economically justifiable program to reduce risk from the rising cost of vehicle accidents and operational costs.

Challenged Training Budget

Challenged training budgets, near non-existence capital construction budget can overlook the fact that not only do police departments fight more civil litigation involving collisions and pursuits than anything else, vehicle related incidents are the number one cause of Police Officer injuries and the second leading cause of deaths. Firefighter Fatality statistics reported in the NFPA 2011  report also provides startling details into vehicle operations and injury.

A viable, proven and economically feasible solution to emergency vehicle operations (EVO) that is trending upward is the SKIDCAR.  In use today by almost 300 Police, Fire, EMS, Military Security Forces, school systems, and private driver training companies in North America alone and approximately 27,000 drivers are getting a lesson in a SKIDCAR or SKIDTRUCK® each year.

The SkidCar duplicates conditions where spins and skids  occur at low speeds in a controlled environment allowing students to experience what it feels like to be in a vehicle that is about to go out of control and/or is out of control.

Just as police officers need to qualify with their service weapons on a regular basis, the Adams County Sherriff’s deputies also need to qualify in their vehicles” said Lieutenant Rick McNair in charge of the departments training section. “With our ever changing weather conditions here in Colorado and our large area of coverage our deputies must be prepared for any road condition at any time.”

 

How It Works

The SkidCar System is a hydraulically-controlled unit mounted to the suspension on the training vehicle, such as a police car or fire truck, that exactly duplicates the loss of tire traction at very low speeds (6 to 40 mph). Using an electro-hydraulic pump, the mechanism reduces traction by raising or lowering the vehicle’s tires from the road, duplicating hazardous driving conditions such as ice, snow, rain, or oil- or gas-slickened roads. This low-speed training tool teaches drivers how to avoid skids and loss of control. It has become a critical component of many public safety and low enforcement driver training programs. From inside the car, the instructor can control the system’s 20 different traction settings that duplicate a full range of hazardous driving conditions, and instantly lowers the tires to full contact with the road surface. The SKIDCAR requires no special surfaces or traditional EVOC track. Only a relatively smooth, reasonable sized parking lot is all that is required. Because of it’s mobility and use of set-up even small areas can be turned in to a driving range capable of training critical driving techniques and outcomes. Without question, these factors alone make the logistics, cost and time benefits of Skidcar worth serious evaluation.

Multiple Application; Nationally

Nationally the SKIDCAR has found application in many areas in addition to public safety for example the Alabama Municipal Insurance Corporation and the Municipal Workers Compensation Fund provides the Proactive Driver Training program for law enforcement personnel and other municipal employees in Alabama.  This program has proven results lowering vehicle accidents and average cost per member/claim. SKIDCAR System has been shown to instill better driving instincts to help drivers maintain control in the most difficult real-life situations.  The vehicle is designed to aid in the development of driving techniques that would be risky to learn in a regular vehicle at higher speeds.  The program in Alabama consists of a day-long session in which students are trained using the SkidCar System. The first hour of the course takes place in a classroom setting. The remainder of the program is hands-on and completed in shifts. Three participants ride in the vehicle (one driving, two in the back seat) with the instructor while the remaining six observe how the vehicle responds and help maintain the training course.

Deschutes County, Oregon  offers SKIDCAR classes seven days a week. Many insurance companies offer premium discounts for completing the course. Classes are offered to all permitted drivers, age 15 and up. Each class offers one hour of classroom instruction followed by three hours of hands-on driving experience. The all-weather driving course teaches students superior vehicle control skills for all types of road conditions. Students learn how to become proactive drivers; to think ahead during vehicle operation so they don’t need to exercise their superior skills. Each graduate is provided with a Letter and Certificate of completion. Deschutes County’s SkidCar Training Program mission is accountability behind the wheel: “100 percent vehicle control, 100 percent of the time”. Course highlights include:

  • Accountability behind the wheel: “100 percent vehicle control, 100 percent of the time”
  • Complete vehicle inspection techniques prior to operation
  • Principles of what makes tires work properly
  • Proper eye placement
  • Proper vehicle weight transfer management
  • Proper acceleration, steering and braking techniques
  • Trail braking techniques
  • Skid and slide prevention
  • Line of sight cornering techniques

Ride and Drive Demonstration

SKIDCAR SYSTEM, INC, the North American distributor of SKIDCAR sponsors several training events each year. Attendees are able to inspect, drive, and discuss training applications for this exciting and valuable asset to your driver training business, academy, or school. The in-house SKIDCAR Mobile Driver Training Program vehicle is attached to an SUV equipped with 2 wheel drive, 4 wheel drive, ABS braking, Electronic Stability Control, and Traction Control safety programs. These technologies can also be disabled for a clear reference of driver training with older vehicles lacking these modern electronic safety technologies.

The demonstration events will confirm that a multimillion dollar driving range, or very expensive wet skid pan is not needed to properly train drivers in vehicle operation, skid control, skid avoidance, and how necessary it is to use good judgment as they drive down the road.  Thought process is the most important component while driving, but many dynamic driving lessons focus on speed and skill first.

Conclusion

The SKIDCAR is unique in the industry as the only device that is adjustable for grip. Many different driving scenarios and environments can be duplicated at the push of a button. Everything from rain, loose surfaces, ice and snow, or just excessively high speed can be experienced in a SKIDCAR.

If your agency already is using a driving simulator and finds it lacking in total training capability the SKIDCAR can add an important element of realism to the driving course.  Getting out of the simulator and into a SKIDCAR can validate the driving dynamics the simulators miss, and connect the learning experience needed to build a safer driver.

We are convinced a safer, more efficient driver, can be developed at a quicker rate. With less behind the wheel time of usually worn out old training vehicles will save agencies.

Here is the contact information for SKIDCAR System at: info@skidcar.com or (866) 754-3227

EVOC Pursuit Policy Training Workshops

In an effort to reduce the number of deaths and injuries resulting from vehicle pursuits, ALERT International and IADLEST are partnering to provide a FREE, comprehensive pursuit management and policy training program throughout the nation.  For those of you unfamiliar with the acronyms, ALERT is the Association of Professional Law Enforcement Emergency Response Trainers International (http://www.alertinternational.com/). IADLEST is the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training (http://www.iadlest.org/).

EVOC Pursuit Training Workshop