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Just when I think I’ve seen and heard it all, it seems I find one more thing that has me wondering what is wrong with people?!

Last week there was a horrible accident on Interstate 81 near Carlisle. Two people died as a result. Traffic was backed up for miles for hours. It’s one of those things that make me thank my lucky stars I wasn’t involved or caught up in the mess.

But unfortunately, the lost lives weren’t the worst part of the incident.

Nathan Harig, assistant chief for administration at Cumberland Goodwill EMS, sent me his experience during that event. I was shocked and appalled. I hope you will be, too.

Harig writes not about the tragic crash, but rather what happened after the crash. His account is so compelling, what follows is in his own words:

“On April 9, emergency services from our area responded to what turned out to be a horrific crash claiming the lives of two people on Interstate 81 in South Middleton Township. In the midst of this tragedy, however, there were examples of overall good citizenry that need to be praised. There is also a need for a warning to those passersby that put the safety of first responders and other motorists at risk.

Upon arriving on the scene, crews encountered an individual performing CPR in an effort to save one of the victims. There were other bystanders I heard about who helped pull a patient away from dangerous wreckage. While those individuals didn’t stick around long, they have my thanks for being good Samaritans.

Unfortunately, not everyone we encountered that afternoon did such praiseworthy things. Many of the first responders I interacted with were amazed at the number of drivers passing by in the southbound lane with camera phones in their hands. This distracted driving is a flagrant disregard for the safety of other motorists. Too many large tractor-trailers, small sedans and any other type of vehicle were stopping abruptly in the passing lane as they came across our accident scene, recording the devastation and disregarding the fact that first responders were actively working in the area.

While I can count on one hand the number of people who got out to help the victims of the crash before emergency personnel arrived, unfortunately there were many more who were filming it for Youtube or posting it to Facebook.

Each year, too many first responders are struck by traffic while operating at emergency scenes. Countless secondary accidents occur from rubber-necking.

Thrown into this mix now are electronic devices that preoccupy the attention of a driver more than the potentially deadly weapon they are supposed to be in control of. 

While not everyone is there to render first aid immediately after a crash, other passer-bys can help first responders by slowing down in a controlled manner, keeping their eyes on the road, putting down their electronic devices, and moving over to allow room for crews to work. I’m thankful to see the spirit of helpfulness is still alive in those that rushed towards the victims that afternoon, but I’m worried about the countless other drivers with phones in hand instead of a steering wheel.”

Really?! People honestly slowed or stopped their vehicles on an interstate to film the carnage?

They put themselves and emergency responders in danger to be the first to report on social media?

If that doesn’t make you angry, consider how you’d feel if your child or parent were involved in the crash. How would you feel if you saw your family member’s vehicle smashed up on Facebook before you got a phone call alerting you to the situation? How would you feel if EMS couldn’t reach your loved one because they were blocked by onlookers?

What happened to common sense and courtesy?

Many of the emergency responders we rely on to save us do so voluntarily. All are trained to save lives. All of them have seen horrible things they can never unsee. Why make their jobs more difficult? And why, oh why, would you not just slow down, maybe say a prayer if you’re so inclined, keep driving and then, if you must, simply thank your lucky stars on social media that you weren’t involved?

Think about it.

And if you see a first responder, thank him or her. I guarantee they don’t get enough thanks for all they experience on the job.

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About This Blog

Despite having raised a teenager and being a news reporter for most of her 20+ year career, Andrea Ciccocioppo is continually surprised and appalled by the crazy stuff going on in the world today. Every Wednesday, she will comment on an issue relevant to kids, parenting or life in Central Pennsylvania--the good, the bad and the just plain nuts.

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