Not all roadside workers are focused on building roads and managing traffic. In fact, some roadside workers aren’t protected by orange cones at all.
Take paramedics, for example. These men and women are often required to tend to patients who have been hurt on, or near, roads. While their focus is on saving lives, ours should be on protecting theirs. That’s why “Slow Down, Move Over” legislation was introduced in 2009.
We recently talked to paramedic Robbie Jai about his experience responding to roadside emergencies. Although his “Cone Zone” takes the form of bright emergency lights, it means the same thing: slow down and stay alert.
TranBC: Hi Robbie. First, tell us a bit about yourself.
Robbie: I’m a primary care paramedic with the BC Ambulance Service, stationed in Port Alberni.
I joined the ambulance service in 1986 and started in Hope. I joined the fulltime ranks and worked mainly in Vancouver, Burnaby and the North Shore. I transferred to Port Alberni in 1998. I am married and have two teenage boys who are very active in sports and the arts.
TranBC: What are some instances where you, as a paramedic, need to be protected from traffic?
Robbie: As a paramedic, there is a need to provide a safe perimeter, not only in the area around the ambulance, but also in the area around our patients, if they happen to be on or near the roadways.
TranBC: What does the Cone Zone campaign me to you and your family?
Robbie: The ambulance does not have a requirement for a Cone Zone [ie. pylons] due to the emergency lights. It was a spring night when I was loading a stretcher into the ambulance. A car struck the open back door on the driver’s side. The door swung back and hit me in the pelvis, throwing me 10 feet into my partner. I was off work for three months.
TranBC: What do you want drivers to keep in mind when passing by road incidents and through Cone Zones?
Robbie: With more education, drivers should slow down to a crawl to drive past road incidents, construction, emergency vehicles, tow trucks and any coned areas. Then all workers can go home to their families.