Nfld. & Labrador

Come by Chance fire chief says drivers still putting responders in danger

Come by Chance fire chief Duane Antle is frustrated by the behaviour of some drivers at accident scenes, and worries it could result in secondary injuries, or even deaths.

Duane Antle says nightmare scenario involves losing a firefighter or other responder at an accident scene

Duane Antle is chief of the Come by Chance volunteer fire department, and president of the 5,900-member Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Fire Services. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

Come by Chance fire chief Duane Antle is frustrated by the behaviour of some drivers at accident scenes, and worries it could result in secondary injuries, or even deaths.

"The nightmare scenario for me is that I go to the highway and at the end of that call I've got to go knock on one of my firefighters' doors and say that person is not coming home. You think about that for a second," said Antle, who is also president of the 5,900-member Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Fire Services.

Motorists taking video, pictures

Antle took to Facebook Wednesday night after responding to a collision on the Trans-Canada Highway earlier this week.

He said most passersby respected the warning signage and directions being given by first responders, but not everyone.

Brigades like the Come by Chance volunteer fire department have invested significantly into training and new equipment to ensure their safety at accident scenes, says chief Duane Antle. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

"We had one individual almost went over and hit the guardrail because he was too busy holding up his cell phone trying to get a video of what we were doing," said Antle.

At another accident scene, Antle said an impatient motorist berated one of his firefighters for slowing traffic.

He said it's an unnecessary distraction, and could potentially delay aid to those in need.

"You've got to realize that the people in that car that need our help, if we've got to stop what we're doing because we're being put in additional danger, then their help is slowed down. So there is a lot of reasons that seeing this upsets me," said Antle.

There have been numerous incidents throughout North America of firefighters and other responders being injured and killed at a controlled accident scene, and Antle is speaking out because he doesn't want to see that happen here.

He said the situation appears to be getting worse, even as the number of collisions and fatalities actually decline.

"I think they deserve a little better than to be put in unnecessary risk," he said.

The nightmare scenario for me is that I go to the highway and at the end of that call I've got to go knock on one of my firefighters' doors and say that person is not coming home.- Come by Chance fire chief Duane Antle

Fire departments that respond to highway crashes have invested a great deal of time and money into training and new equipment to protect them at these scenes, Antle added.

He is pleading with motorists to slow down, and show some empathy for those injured or killed in collisions, and those trying to help, including firefighters, police officers, paramedics and tow-truck drivers.

And there's one more thing.

"Leave that phone where it's to, until you safely get through that scene is the best thing to do," he said.

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