Firefighters faced with danger when drivers don't move over
When the weather is bad or clear, first responders are faced with many dangers when they respond to a call. A major one being drivers not giving them space and putting their lives at risk. Local departments said too often drivers don't follow that rule and have injured and even killed police and firefighters. Grand Island has had a few of their own close calls.
“There was a car that had driven by him and did a 360 right beside the truck, missed Kevin by about a foot, so that was a close call,” Firefighter-EMT Lonnie Mitteis said.
When firefighters are on a scene they can't always trust drivers will give them the space they need to work. In bad weather, there is a greater risk of drivers losing control. GIFD said it is a growing issue as there are more distractions for drivers.
“We've had officers have to stop people right in the middle of our scenes because they're in a hurry, their day is more important than ours, I guess, or somebody that is injured,” Mitteis said.
The Nebraska law states that people have to move to the far lane away from a response vehicle. Multiple Grand Island firefighters said they have been clipped by cars or have been close enough to touch them.
“What happens is we get people that are watching the scene versus watching the road and you usually follow the way your eyes go so if you're looking to the right where we are you tend to drift that way,” Battalion Chief Bryan Stutzman said.
Drivers also forget when an emergency vehicle approaches them with lights and sirens on they have to move to the right. But some go to the left or stop in the road creating a new danger. firefighters said it can keep their focus from the scene at hand when they have to watch out for other drivers.
“It's become part of the job, you have to watch out for everybody else,” Mitteis said.
Grand Island is hoping drivers will follow the law so they don't lose one of their own.