07/27/07 106 W, 1 I - + 18 - 22 The I-40 Incident / Cell Phone Usage

Was this afternoon's incident on I-40 the first fiery, multi-vehicle accident in these parts? Or at least in a while? Units/agencies on scene/dispatched included: BFD, CFD E1 R4, CEMS 571 574 580, DFD E13, DHFD, MFD E1 E2, PFD, RDU CFR3, RFD E14 R14 E24, WEMS T1 + others, WWFD. Slideshows available at WRAL, WTVD, and the News & Observer. Also, the WRAL story notes "authorities urged motorists to avoid the area and to refrain from using cellular phones to keep cellular lines signals available for emergency personnel." What? Never heard that one before. Can someone elaborate?

SF1273, SF1274, SF1282, EMS8, EMS4 (call swapped with EMS2- then cancelled en route), EMS204
DJ - 07/28/07 - 00:06

Regarding your questions about cell phone usage, anytime a large number of people in one area use their cell phones at one time, it becomes nearly impossible to get a call out. A good example of this is Walnut Creek Amphitheater on a concert night. When the concert is over and 20,000 people are leaving and talking on their cell phones it is nearly impossible to make a telephone call from that general area for at least an hour. The same applies during an emergency incident. Emergency responders have become quite complacent in using their “Nextels” and other cellular devices on scenes of emergency incidents. This creates a multi-faceted problem. One of the biggest being that during a disaster or MCI situation, you may not be able to make a cell call due to overload. Another big reason not to use cell phones on emergency scenes is that conversations between personnel on cell phones are not recorded. These problems make it imperative that you KNOW your radio system well and how to access all of the talk groups in your radio. We become complacent using the normal, everyday talkgroups (dispatch and tac channels) but is everyone comfortable switching to talk groups that we do not use everyday? If you will notice, the admin. talk groups are silent most of the time because Fire and EMS administrators communicate largely via direct connect. During a disaster situation, when cellular towers are innundated with calls or down due to a disaster or power failure, our seldom used talk groups will come alive. Take a few moments to brush up on your 800 radio. When the time comes when you are unable to communicate by cell/nextel, you do not want to be at a loss and waste time on the scene of the emergency showing responders where to find talk groups in their radio. It’s a shame that the loss of nextel can cripple some emergency responders – but it happens. Know your radio well so that you can smoothly run a scene without the cell phone.
Jason Thompson (Email) - 07/28/07 - 08:44

was the dodge pickup a state owned vehicle? cant see any markings from the pictures.
Adam Brown - 07/31/07 - 12:45

yes. The booster reel and pump were found on the other side of the trailer.
CFP 7021 (Email) - 07/31/07 - 13:15

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