Understanding the Importance of Crash Responder Safety Week

November 13, 2023

Protecting those who protect us

Crash Responder Safety Week (CRSW), observed from November 13-17, 2023, serves a critical role in highlighting the dangers faced by first responders at vehicle crash scenes.

This annual event, established by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), is not only a reminder of these risks but also a platform for educating both responders and the public about necessary safety measures and best practices​​​​.

The role of first responders

First responders, including EMS, law enforcement, towing, and recovery personnel, face significant hazards daily while responding to vehicle crashes.

Their work often involves dealing with hazardous materials, mangled vehicles, and providing immediate assistance to injured individuals​​.

One of the primary risks is being struck by passing vehicles, heightened by factors like high-speed roads and distracted driving.

Alarmingly, between 2019 and 2022, 33 fire and EMS personnel were killed due to being struck by vehicles, alongside 82 law enforcement fatalities and 90 tow operators, road service technicians, and DOT workers​​.

A focus on public education and effective practices

A key aspect of CRSW is public education and the implementation of effective Traffic Incident Management (TIM) practices.

These practices, such as alerting drivers to slow down and move over when encountering emergency scenes, are vital for reducing secondary crashes and ensuring the safety of both motorists and responders​​.

CRSW 2023’s theme, “Protect Those Who Protect You,” emphasizes this shared responsibility and encourages active participation from the entire community​​.

Resources and training for safety week

Various resources are available to aid in planning CRSW activities and training. The Responder Safety Learning Network, for instance, offers over 40 online training modules covering various aspects of roadway incident response safety.

A notable initiative during this week is the National TIM Training Certificate Challenge, encouraging personnel to complete specific training and reinforce their commitment to safety​​.

Raising public awareness

While CRSW primarily focuses on educating and supporting first responders, it also presents an opportunity to raise public awareness.

The week stresses the shared responsibility of all road users to ensure the safety of crash responders.

By promoting safety-conscious and considerate driving behaviors, especially near crash scenes, the risks faced by responders can be significantly mitigated​​.

A call to action and reflection

CRSW calls for reflection on the sacrifices made by responders and a commitment to their safety.

This week is a time to reinforce safety priorities and spread awareness about the hazards faced by responders due to hazardous crash scene conditions and inattentive drivers.

Ultimately, the objective is to create a safer environment for responders to perform their duties effectively and safely return home​​​​.

FSJA Comment

Crash Responder Safety Week represents a crucial initiative in the realm of public safety.

By focusing on the risks faced by first responders at crash scenes, this event brings to the forefront the need for comprehensive safety training, public awareness, and cooperative efforts between responders and the general public.

The high number of fatalities and injuries among responders highlights the urgency of this issue.

Educating the public to be more aware and cautious when approaching crash scenes can significantly reduce these risks.

This week serves as a reminder that safety is a collective responsibility, and each individual’s actions can contribute to a safer environment for those dedicated to protecting us.

About Crash Responder Safety Week

Crash Responder Safety Week is an annual event aimed at promoting safety for first responders at vehicle crash scenes.

Organized by the Federal Highway Administration, it involves a series of initiatives and activities to educate both first responders and the public on safety measures.

The week underscores the importance of public education, effective traffic incident management practices, and shared responsibility in ensuring the safety of crash responders.

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