Submitted by Bill Browning, Towing: They Lose More Personnel than All of Us

The Responder, July 2014, Message from the TIM Network Liaison

As this issue features a WreckMaster article about the towing industry, I thought it was timely to talk about the losses that the towing industry incurs each week. Historically, the towing industry loses more personnel to highway incidents than any of the other responder disciplines. We have to work together to stop these deaths. Even one responder death is too many, and the towing industry loses more than one tower each week on our highways.

The towing industry plays a huge, invaluable role in Traffic Incident Management (TIM). We can work toward reducing the time to clear incidents all we want, but if we don’t include towing in every aspect of the process, then our work will not be successful. The towing industry has the specialty equipment that the others do not. And, they are highly skilled in the use of this equipment. Experienced, professional towing personnel will reduce the time that we all are exposed to traffic.

Many have heard me refer to the TIM community as a “family.” We truly are a family, with the same types of troubles that all families have. Some days we love our family, and some days, well, not so much. But, at the end of the day, we are all a family and we must protect each other. The whole “family” must go home at the end of the day. It is the responsibility of all of us to make sure that this happens. The towing industry must be part of our TIM family. In many areas of the country, this has happened, or is happening. But in other areas, the towing industry is not included in TIM programs for a variety of reasons.

If, during the course of managing an incident, we have an issue with one of the other members of our TIM family, we can address the issue later at an After Action Review. Allowing any issues between any of the responders to cause problems at the scene of an incident on the highway is not acceptable. These types of problems only increase the time that it takes to clear an incident, and it increases the exposure of our personnel to traffic. This won’t work out well for any of us.

I encourage those of you not in the towing industry to reach out to the towers in your area to develop or strengthen your relationships. For those of you who are in the towing industry, I encourage you to contact the other responders in your area to do the same. What we find is that we are all a lot alike, and that we have the same goals when managing incidents on our highways. At the end of the day, we must all make sure that our “family” goes home safely.

As always, please forward this message to as many emergency responders as possible.