by Joe Garcia of OBGR
Emergency personnel are trained to know exactly how to respond to every type of accident. But, are they prepared to respond properly and quickly when their own emergency vehicle crashes? In 2016, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported there was an estimated 15,425 crashes involving fire department emergency vehicles.
The following steps are examples you can provide your fire department clients to help them protect their employees and the public in the event of an accident.
Step 1: Have a policy in place
Every department should have a policy and training in place to respond to an accident involving an emergency vehicle. All members of the department should be trained on how to properly fill out an accident report form, talk to investigators and report the crash to dispatch and insurance. Ensure all accident report forms are accessible and
designate who from the department will respond to an accident. All policies should be distributed throughout the department and training should occur at least annually. Having a plan in place can reduce the consequences following the accident.
Step 2: Safety
If an accident does occur, the first thing that should be attended to is safety. Immediately notify the department that there has been an accident so that another emergency vehicle can be dispatched to the original emergency. At this time, it’s important to also notify the local law enforcement agency. If able, the involved crew should provide aid to any of the injured parties. After medical assistance has been provided, secure the accident scene so that other vehicles will not hit and further damage your emergency vehicle. Before moving the vehicle, if safe to do so, document the position of the vehicle with photographs or a sketch.
Step 3: Documentation
Using a readily available accident form, document the accident. Having a camera to take photos is a good idea, but a cell phone camera will work as well if your department cannot supply each vehicle with a camera. After filling out the accident report form, get the names and contact information from all parties involved in the accident. At this
time, consider also acquiring names, contact information and statements from witnesses. Never admit any fault at the scene of the accident. Provide the information you collected to the police department.
Step 4: File a Claim
Report the accident through your insurance agent as soon as possible, but no later than 24 hours after the accident. Provide all the information you collected to the insurance company in a timely manner to expedite claims and/ or repairs. Once all of the collected information and accident forms have been provided to necessary parties, the
documents should be stored for future investigations made for legal or insurance purposes. All personnel should be trained on proper document storage during policy and procedure training.
Step 5: Vehicle Inspection and Repair
Once the emergency vehicle has been returned safely and the investigation has been completed, an inspection must take place. Have an inspection plan in place that will determine whether the emergency vehicle can be used until repairs are made. To expedite the repairs, know where to go to get emergency equipment repaired.
Step 6: Vehicle Re-Certification
Unfortunately, repairing the damaged equipment doesn’t mean your emergency vehicle is automatically ready to be reinstated into the fleet. Many pieces of equipment (e.g. the Arial truck and snorkel) may need to be re-certified before the emergency vehicle is deemed safe. After the equipment has been re-certified, your insurance company
may need to verify this before the emergency vehicle is fully covered.
Accidents happen but many are preventable. If your emergency vehicle has an accident, properly reporting and investigating each accident is important in finding potential solutions. If your department has questions regarding your current policy or questions about getting started, contact your risk control resource through your insurance
Local fire departments and emergency responders have a tremendous responsibility to keep their communities safe, and protect the people who live there. With an instinct to protect strengthened by integrity and reliability, it’s important to find an insurance carrier with similar values. OneBeacon Government Risks understands the unique
responsibilities of firefighters and first responders, and we’re here to help minimize their risks, resolve claims and make the community a safer place to live and work. Our FirstFire Services™ insurance coverages include automobile, property, inland marine, general liability, management liability, employment practices liability and excess liability.
Questions? Give us a call!
Erin Ball, Agent/Owner
Ball Insurance Services
Cell (402) 540-4948
Fax (888) 900-1167
PO Box 399
Eagle, NE 68347