Drive along a Wisconsin highway long enough and you’ll see first responders working a crash scene. There’s a crash about every four minutes in Wisconsin. Often working just feet away from traffic, crash responders put their lives in danger every time they respond to one of these scenes.
During Crash Responder Safety Week (November 8-14, 2021), the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) “Transportation Connects Us” podcast takes you inside the world of Wisconsin crash response to share amazing stories of survival. We introduce you to three crash responders who’ve either been hit by a vehicle or were involved in extremely close calls with traffic.
“It was the most routine of routine calls. It was a small rollover crash. Nobody was severely hurt. We were there to check somebody out,” West Bend Firefighter Steve Stockhausen explained while recalling a February 2018 crash response.
This routine call turned into a near-death situation in a matter of seconds when an inattentive driver failed to slow down or move over and slammed into the crash scene.
“I heard the crash and I knew exactly what happened. I knew exactly that somebody wasn’t paying attention,” Stockhausen said.
Stories like these are common at crash scenes across Wisconsin. Since 2017, 332 crash responders have been injured while working inside their emergency vehicle or at the scene of a crash.
“It’s always a little nerve wracking. If somebody says that it’s not, I think they’re kind of fooling themselves because cars whizzing by you at that speed, anything can go wrong at any time,” Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Sarah Kralovetz said.
Crash responders understand the dangerous nature of their job and they rely on us to drive safely so they get home safely at the end of their day.
“Just think, just because you were in a hurry to get home thirty seconds faster, or you wanted to get to that red light just a little bit ahead of that person in front of you. You didn’t just end one man’s life, or one woman’s life, you took their father, you took their wife, you took their mother from them,” Wisconsin State Patrol Sergeant Randy Gordon said.
“Transportation Connect Us” is a podcast series produced by WisDOT which focuses on transportation safety, engineering, transportation investments and DMV topics. Download or subscribe wherever you find your podcasts.