ST. PAUL, Minn. — Former Esko firefighter Alina Granholm drives every day past the spot on the highway where her husband died.
Granholm and her husband, Capt. Kim Granholm, had responded to a roadside incident when a chain-reaction crash sent a vehicle into their scene, killing Kim. He died trying to make the area around the incident safer for responders and other motorists.
Minnesota’s fire, law enforcement and emergency medical personnel will soon have a new tool to learn important safety tips for addressing roadway incidents so officials can avoid life-changing mistakes that put responders and motorists in harm’s way.
SceneSafe, a 30-minute video training guide, will be distributed before year’s end to all Minnesota first responders.
More than 3,200 police, fire and ambulance vehicles were involved between 2008 and 2012 in Minnesota crashes, according to Minnesota Department of Public Safety statistics. Sometimes crashes are caused by inattentive drivers. Sometimes weather plays a role. Sometimes first responders are to blame for not safely staging at an incident.
State Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl said the SceneSafe DVD shows responders how they can take their safety into their own hands.
It also and highlights why distracted driving by motorists is so dangerous. Multitasking and not paying attention behind the wheel can cause crashes and make an already bad situation worse, he said.
“We all need to share the roads and pay attention to the distractions going on around us,” Rosendahl said. “These responders are risking their lives trying to help. While they need to do everything they can to stay safe, motorists can’t keep putting them in more danger.”
The video — funded by the state Fire Safety Account — was a collaboration between DPS’ State Fire Marshal Division, Minnesota State Patrol, Minnesota Department of Transportation, various responder associations, and several municipal police, EMS and fire departments. The SceneSafe training video includes:
- Dramatic stories of Minnesota first responders killed and injured at a crash scene.
- Instruction and considerations for properly responding to roadway incidents.
- Critical tips and advice for setting up emergency traffic control scenes.
“The goal of SceneSafe is to help Minnesota responders establish an emergency work zone that is as safe as possible,” said John McClellan, MnDOT freeway operations supervisor. “Many of these strategies revolve around providing the motoring public clear instructions on what to do when approaching a roadway incident, protecting both the responders and the public.”
Former state trooper Jonathan Ferris’ story is highlighted in the video. He was on I-35 and approached a scene like he had hundreds of times. A vehicle lost control moments later and slammed into Ferris and two other men.
“Vehicles from a couple of thousand pounds all the way up to tens of thousands of pounds — 60, 70, 75 mph — that’s a very permanent end to your life if you’re struck directly by them,” Ferris said.
Inver Grove Heights Fire Department Chief Judy Smith Thill said SceneSafe will help responders understand how they can work together to keep everyone safe.
“When all responders understand each other’s priorities and work together to coordinate actions, it makes the emergency scene much safer for everyone,” Smith Thill said. “Having this training video not only helps highlight the dangers responders are faced with, but can also get all of them on the same page when responding to these incidents.”
Download crash footage at http://ow.ly/qmCef
The entire SceneSafe video and more information is available at http://ow.ly/qmCkK
About the Minnesota Department Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.