In winter’s longer nights, EMS workers ask drivers to ‘Give us a brake’
Ozark County’s emergency personnel remind area residents and drivers that, with longer hours of darkness as the seasons change, it’s more important than ever to be careful when driving through accident and incident zones. “Especially here in Ozark County, where it seems like every road’s one blind curve after another or a hill or some other hazard,” said Tecumseh Volunteer Fire Department Capt. Stephen Ator. “Folks need to keep an eye out for flaggers and signs and flashing lights.”
Ator recently showed some of the reflective signage Tecumseh VFD uses to stop or direct traffic around accident areas, including large, bright, diamond-shaped warning signs that are set out about 1/4 mile from the incident scene. Firefighters and other first responders also use hand-held radios, paddle-shaped signs and traffic cones to direct traffic flow, he said.
Ozark County Mutual Aid, an organization of the county’s volunteer fire departments, hopes to find grant money or other funding to provide all member fire departments with the large incident signs, which cost $360 each and can stand up in 60-mph wind, as well as other traffic-control equipment they may need. To outfit a department with at least two of the large incident signs and plenty of traffic cones and paddle signs costs about $1,000, Ator said. He is unaware of other departments that have the large, reflective incident signs.
Ator, a deputy with the Ozark County Sheriff’s Department, attended an accident scene safety training class a few years ago and came away with this focus:
“The main thing is this: Obey the flaggers you see at accident scenes. Give us a brake – literally,” he said. “We do the job for free. We just need to stay as safe as we can because we want to go home at night, just like you do.”