JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – From EMTs to Road Rangers, first responders help keep traffic moving and try their best to keep people out of harm’s way, sometimes getting hurt themselves.
The Florida Department of Transportation is recognizing them and the critical role they play this week for Crash Responder Safety Week.
Road Rangers are often the first people on the scene of a crash and work quickly to make sure traffic flows smoothly.
They want to remind people that it’s a team effort to make sure everyone stays safe.
It can be a dangerous job, but they do it because they care.
Tina Dickerson is a supervisor with First Coast Road Rangers. They drive along the highways and byways, helping people.
“We do anything from motorists that have flat tires, motorists that need jumpstarts, motorists that have been involved in a crash. Sometimes it can be someone that’s pulled over for a medical emergency,” Dickerson said.
Road Rangers work 24/7 along some of our area’s busiest roadways from I-95, to I-295, to I-10 and JTB just to name a few.
While riding along 95, News4JAX came across an abandoned car that we later found out was vandalized.
“Somebody stole the catalytic converter, so we put a red tag on the vehicle. FHP is going to be coming out to possibly get a hold of the motorist to see if they need a report made,” said Dickerson.
Dickerson said she’s seen Road Rangers get hurt firsthand.
“We can be at an original crash, and there can be somebody coming up behind us that’s not paying attention and they go to slam on their brakes and they can run into the accident scene,” she said. “We just have to have constant communication, constant lookout.”
Since 2014, 247 Road Rangers have been hit by drivers while tending to disabled vehicles -- 47 of them were seriously hurt.
The Florida Department of Transportation continues to work on strategies to make sure no more first responders get hurt.
A new notification system now available on smartphone GPS apps lets drivers know when there’s a first responder on the scene so they can move over before approaching the crash -- which is state law in both Florida and Georgia.
“What we want to do is remind people of the people that are actually working to make sure that our roads are as safe as possible,” said FDOT spokesperson Hampton Ray.
“If the motorists can pay attention to the services that FDOT offers, it gives them awareness of what’s coming ahead so they can move over to be safe just for themselves and for what they’re coming up on,” Dickerson said.
FDOT wants to remind people that Road Rangers are always available if you need them. All you have to do is call *347.