April 27 to May 23, 2009 is Rail Safety Week. In the US 1399 injuries and 744 fatalities were reported in railroad grade crossing and trespassing incidents. CN railroad has a goal of zero accidents, injuries, and fatalities. With more than 228,000 rail grade crossings in the United States it is inevitable that your ambulance will cross train tracks daily. Fifty percent of collisions occur at crossings with active warning devices – gates, lights, or bells.
These tips for rail grade crossings by ambulances probably seem like common sense, but are worth reviewing:
- Never attempt to beat the rail crossing signal, even if transporting a critical patient emergently
- Always follow rail crossing signals and directions for parking
- At rail grade crossings without active warning devices check and re-check in both directions before crossing
- Know routes in your service area for avoiding rail grade crossings
- Have alternate transporting routes for intersections that are frequently blocked by trains
Remember your kinematics of trauma lecture. Trains have a lot of mass and they don’t stop quickly.