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Emergency personnel urge P.E.I. drivers to use more caution on roads

Desmond Arsenault, president of the Wellington Fire Department, says a firefighter was nearly struck by a motorist who drove through an accident scene the department was attending.
Desmond Arsenault, president of the Wellington Fire Department, says a firefighter was nearly struck by a motorist who drove through an accident scene the department was attending. - Millicent McKay

WELLINGTON, P.E.I. - Island firefighters are urging drivers to be aware of their surroundings and respect the job of emergency responders after a Wellington firefighter was nearly struck by a car.

“It’s frustrating because it’s life safety,” said Desmond Arsenault, president of the Wellington Fire Department. “And that’s one of the mandates of a firefighter. Not just for the people we’re protecting, but for ourselves as well.”

Arsenault and other members of the Wellington department responded to a recent structure fire and called for assistance from the Miscouche Fire Department.

While responding the scene, firefighters decided to park one of the responding trucks diagonally across the road in order to block traffic flow, while also allowing firefighters to go to and from the truck without issue.

“It was a shorter driveway, which meant we had to set up on the road,” said Arsenault.

“If we can, we try to avoid that because we understand it’s an inconvenience, however … until we feel it’s safe, we tend to block the road off.”

A large red truck with flashing lights should be an indication that the road is blocked, but in this case, that wasn’t enough to deter a motorist from driving through the scene.

“One of our members was walking to one of the trucks and there was a vehicle that went around one of our trucks. And when I say around, I mean they would have had to drive on the shoulder of the road to get around.

“Our member was startled because they weren’t expecting to see a car there.”

No one was injured, said Arsenault.

“Of course, we tried to get the attention of the driver, but they just kept going. We notified the RCMP about the incident, but we couldn’t identify the vehicle or the driver.”

After the close call, Desmond posted on the department’s Facebook page reminding the public that “we all have families to go home to,” and the road is blocked for the safety of those trying to deal with the situation.

A similar case occurred in the summer, he said.

“We don’t know if it’s because people are in a rush or it’s the curiosity factor. All we can ask is that people respect the scene, the flashing lights and let us do our job.”

Last year, a police officer in New Brunswick was struck and killed while helping a motorist change a tire.

Jason Peters, chief of the New Glasgow fire department, said his team has not had an incident like this, but they are aware of the potential.

“If you're not paying attention and have your back to a car coming through, sometimes they're gawking and not paying attention either, they're wanting to see what's going on and what we're doing,” said Peters. “The risk is certainly there.”

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