Monday evening, Moosomin emergency responders will be getting together to flash their lights on Highway 1 west of Moosomin in a bid to raise awareness about road safety while they do their jobs. The move comes after the death of an Esterhazy tow truck driver who lost his life in the spring blizzard two weeks ago.
Several emergency responders got together in Moosomin to attend the funeral in Esterhazy Saturday, and plan to use tonight’s gathering on the highway to raise awareness about the dangers of their job and drivers who do not slow down or respect tow truck drivers and other emergency workers.
“Safety is huge. When we’re out working on the highway now, it’s unbelievable how little respect there is for flashing lights and us working on the side of the highway,” says Todd Davidson. Davidson is the owner of Davidson Truck and Tractor in Moosomin, and the one who is organizing tonight’s highway gathering.
He has invited local tow truck drivers, the fire department, police, ambulance, highway transport patrol, and the local tire shops to attend and flash their lights, safely, on the side of the highway, to make a point to motorists.
“We’re out there lots with my business with the towing and with the service side of it, and it’s just countless times I have to walk back and set up my pylons because someone has gone by them so fast they blew them into the ditch,” says Davidson.
“It makes you less excited about doing your job if you can’t do it safely.”
Davidson says he was affected by the death of the tow truck driver from Esterhazy.
“When you look at your kids and your family it sure makes you wonder what you’re doing it for,” he says. “Because if that’s ultimately how you’re going to end up, that’s not what we want. Everything is so safety oriented now and it seems like we’re going backwards.”
The law mandates that motorists have to slow down to 60 kilometres an hour when passing emergency vehicles but Davidson says it’s common for people not to be paying attention.
“I think people are multi tasking. When we’re working a scene, every other person that goes by is distracted either with an iPhone or something in their vehicle and everyone is in a hurry to get somewhere. We have no extra time any more and our lives just seem to be so hustle and bustle, everyone has to be somewhere and make the most of it.”
Davidson is part of a newly formed organization—the Roadside Responders Organization—which is trying to get tow truck drivers and other responders to work together and have more unified representation when dealing with government and other organizations. He says safety has become a huge priority for that organization.
Tow truck drivers are now pushing to be allowed to have red and blue lights on the tops of their trucks instead of yellow lights.
“We want to differentiate between someone working the scene and just a wide load going down the road,” says Davidson. “We want to have red and blue lights because we do feel we are also first responders. We’re not classified as first responders now. Every one of us has been called to an accident where they are waiting on us to get there so they can use our equipment to extract somebody or lift something or move something so that the ambulance guys can do their job. It’s lifesaving.”
Davidson says he received lots of support when he asked local responders about gathering on the highway to flash their lights Monday evening.
“We all talked about it before there was a death and we all said we want to do something before something happens, and now it’s too late, something has happened so we have to move forward. It’s always on our mind,” he says.
“Everybody knows a close call and remembers in their mind a point in time when there was a close call, and know that something needs to be done. Everyone was willing to donate their time and effort.”
Davidson stresses the gathering will be as safe as possible, with police presence, and drivers can slow down as they pass the flashing lights, but they don’t want drivers stopping on the highway.
“We don’t want anyone to get hurt,” he says.
“If they want to see all the lights they are more than welcome to come out and drive by but we don’t want people stopping on the highway other than us. It’s just to raise awareness.
“For the most part it’s the motoring public that we want to notify that we are out there doing a job and we want a bit more respect, because when we are out there doing our job we need part of the road to do it. “Everyone who’s out working on the highway is at risk of being injured at any given time.”