Sunday, August 21, 2005

Stop! Look & Listen!

That's what the old railroad crossing signs used to say. The warning is no longer present on the crossbucks, but the danger is still there.

Two different stories in the past few days hit home to me as I have a very dear friend who works in EMS and is behind the wheel of an ambulance every day. Even though I know my friend is too smart to stop on a grade crossing, it still happens more frequently than you'd imagine. But EMS personnel should be especially aware of the dangers.

A freight train, moving at 35 MPH, will take approximately one and a half MILES to stop, so even if the engineer sees you, he can't stop his train in time.

Thursday, in Falkville, Alabama an ambulance was struck by a freight train while the ambulance was at a grade-crossing. Both ambulance personnel were killed in that accident. It was reported that they were responding to a non-emergency call. While I was looking up more information on this accident I learned that another ambulance was struck by a train in Littlerock, Arkansas Friday, killing all three paramedics on board.

In an ironic twist, the only person to survive that crash in the ambulance was the patient.

So, what ever you do, DO NOT try to go around the lowered barricades at grade crossings, and when crossing at one that has no warning lights and barricades, STOP, LOOK and LISTEN!

Don't think you can beat the train, you will most definitely lose. Last year when I was still working along the New River for CSX, I spoke with an engineer about this very subject. He said that it's not a matter of if you'll hit a vehicle with your train, it's a matter of when.

A pretty sobering thought.

To learn more about this, go to Operation Lifesaver:

It has plenty of information for EMS, police, fire personnel and also businesses and teachers.

It may save your life one day.

Copyright 2005 Thomas J Wolfenden

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