Mock Monday: The Police: Part 1

November 7, 2011

Report a ClaimWelcome back to Mock Monday! I'm glad you're back to join us. Did you read the first two installments of Mock Monday? If not, check it here and here.

Do you remember where we left off?

What are Terry's next steps?

1) Yell & scream2) Play with her broken iPad3) Speak to the police and exchange information
If you answered 3) Speak to the police and exchange information, you are correct. Of course it probably seemed like the obvious answer, and I'm sure Terry wanted to do all three, and maybe she did.This week we're looking at the collision from the police officer's point of view. We'll call him Joe Smith.Joe Smith was in his cruiser parked along a highway when he received a call for an accident dispatch. He was the closest police officer to the scene. The overview he received from the dispatcher went as follows: 1 van, 1 pick-up and 1 sedan involved in a 3 vehicle collision on Route 66 East, 5 or more people involved, possible injuries, 2 young children involved, airbags deployed.

Below is how he approaches an accident:Joe immediately starts to go over in his head what he will need, what he needs to do and what is the best and fastest route. He was the closest officer in the area and he can get there within 5 minutes. Based on the overview he received from dispatch, he is assuming there are injuries. The accident happened on a highway where the average speed is 55 MPH. Joe hits his lights & sirens. He wants to get there as fast as safely possible, and police policy is to only go over the posted speed limit by 20 MPH. He knows he's no help if he gets into an accident on his way to the initial accident scene. He is thinking he needs to get there for possible injured person(s) and to safely secure the scene ASAP to avoid further injuries or complications.

Once Joe arrives at the scene, he parks his cruiser in a safe area so other traffic will recognize there is an accident scene and hopefully slow down and block the accident scene itself. He takes into account if someone were to crash into his cruiser, he parks it so the cruiser wouldn't be pushed into him or the accident scene. He does his initial assessment of the scene, how many vehicles, how many people, who is hurt, who needs to be seen by Rescue first, any fire danger with the vehicles, fluid or gas leaks, are there any electrical wires down, does he have enough help (does he need more than one ambulance, a fire engine, another cruiser for traffic, tow trucks, to call NSTAR to have power shut off if wires are down). If someone is hurt he confirms with Dispatch that a Rescue is coming and tells them the extent of the injured person on scene. Once everything is taken care of he obtains the operators, passengers and vehicle information. Joe investigates the accident, talks to operators, witnesses, takes measurements, photos if necessary, issues citation if appropriate.

To avoid further damage/injury, Joe makes sure the scene is blocked off so it is safe for everyone. If he has to shut the highway down to stop traffic, he will, to make the scene safe. If the damage to the vehicles is not bad he will have them move off the highway into a business lot, if possible, to free up the highway. If not, most likely one lane or both lanes will be shut down depending on the accident scene. The breakdown lane can be used to divert traffic. Most of the time people like to slow down and rubberneck the accident, which slows down traffic and creates a hazard. Other drivers become more concerned about seeing what happened than focusing on driving safely through the scene. Joe worries first about the people involved in the accident, making the scene safe and once they are all taken care of he will be concerned about the traffic.

If the people involved are hurt, Joe will have them stay in the vehicle as long as there is no risk of the car catching on fire. He feels they are safer sitting in the vehicle than walking around outside. Plus, if the person is injured you don't want them walking around.

In Terry's accident, Joe knows the airbags deployed, one of the drivers might have a whiplash injury. Joe would advise them to stay in their car and let them know Rescue is on the way. Joe leaves the children in the car seats until rescue can get there, unless they are not breathing and need immediate help. When there is an accident with young children involved the mother is going to be very concerned about them. Joe will reassure them they are safe. He also tells them what is going to happen once the rescue crew arrives.

From an insurance point of view, Joe carries Accident Exchange Forms. Time permitting he will fill one out for the operators, but it depends on the seriousness of the accident. The operators can always get the information later from the station. The forms have all the information you need to submit your claim to the insurance company: operator info, DOB, address, vehicle owner info, license number, make, type, color, year of vehicle, insurance carrier, time and place of accident. Joe tells them to contact their insurance agent, let them know they were in an accident and provide the information from the Exchange forms to submit the claim. Joe also advises them to complete a Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Crash Form available at the station {and here} regarding the accident. If there is damage to utility poles, guardrails, signs, personal property the police have to document and advise the property owners.

Most of the time the police are first on scene of an accident. As a First Responder they can assess injuries at the scene and relay the information to the Ambulance while en route. Once they arrive on scene the police can direct them where to park and direct them to the injured. The police on scene will give a quick brief (the driver of the mini van is complaining of neck pain, there are two children in car seats, air bags were deployed).

If there was a tow truck and injuries the start to finish of an accident scene would be 60-90 minutes (could be longer based on a few factors: injuries, traffic, etc).

This week took a little longer than expected for the police procedures. Next week we will learn more about the police assessment of Terry's situation. Hopefully, there will be time for the medic assessment.
Please check back next week for The Police: Part 2 - HOW will Joe react when he arrives at the scene? What will Officer Smith's first step be?

*Please note, no REAL persons were involved. This is pretending. Nothing of this is real. Every accident is different.