An operator-centred investigation of safety issues for emergency responders at traffic incidents.
Road crashes killed 1.24 million people across the globe in 2010 and it is estimated that between 14% and 17% of such crashes were secondary incidents – incidents resulting from an initial incident. One means of reducing secondary incidents is through effective traffic incident management. A major concern is that emergency responders pay a high price for their role in this important work as they make up a significant portion of those killed or injured in secondary incidents. The present study investigated responder perspectives about safety issues at traffic incidents. 720 emergency responders from Queensland Police Force, Queensland Fire and Rescue Service and RACQ’s Traffic Response Unit participated in an online survey. Analyses used quantitative and thematic grouping of qualitative data to establish the most salient safety issues. Results across organisations indicate that the key factors for feeling unsafe at traffic incidents are vehicle and perimeter lighting, signage, procedures and protocols, and communication between organisations. There were, however, significant differences between organisations regarding their perspectives on safety issues at incidents. This work is part of an ongoing program of research about safety issues for emergency responders at traffic incidents; it has the potential to inform policy and practices across Australia and internationally.