Why is EMA Closing MY Road?

It’s 5:30 PM on Friday night and you are heading home from work ready to start the weekend with your family and relax on the couch watching TV. As you approach your final turn down your street, there it is, an EMA car has the road blocked with a sign that says “Road Closed”. This scene is common around Madison County as members of the Field Support Team for EMA direct traffic to support local law enforcement, and fire agencies when called upon. The road may be closed due to an accident, fire, SWAT situation, utility wires down on the road or many other reasons, but the one thing you know for sure, the road is closed for your safety. As you approach an emergency vehicle blocking the road, you should slow your speed, be alert to traffic and watch for emergency crews directing traffic. Often times, EMA personnel are out directing traffic helping motorists choose the best, safest and most direct route to detour around the incident.

In 2017, EMA Field Support Team volunteers logged over 6,000 hours (so far for 2018, EMA volunteers have logged over 7,500 hours) mostly directing traffic to support police and fire departments around Madison County. You may see our vehicles on state highways, the interstate, on county roads as well as in the city. EMA responds into the City of Anderson, Elwood, or any other community in Madison County when called upon. Currently EMA Field Support Team consists of approximately 20 members who are available at different times during the day and week. Many of our volunteers have full-time jobs, families and other commitments they must work around. Just like a volunteer firefighter, when the pager goes off, our volunteers jump into action leaving their families at dinner, church, or other gatherings.

The Field Support Team has 7 fully marked state certified emergency vehicles in their fleet. The rest of our volunteers drive their personal vehicles to the scene to close the road and provide traffic control. These 7 fully marked EMA vehicles are certified by the Indiana Department of Transportation as “Emergency Response Vehicles”. This is important to our agency because Indiana State law requires motorists to yield to an emergency vehicle when it is approaching with its emergency lights and audible siren activated. When an EMA vehicle is running “signal 10”, with its lights and siren activated, you are required by law to move to the right and yield the right of way to these vehicles, just like a police car, firetruck or an ambulance. The law also states, if an emergency vehicle is parked blocking a road, the approaching vehicle must slow down to a speed of 10 miles per hours UNDER the posted speed limit and follow any posted traffic control signs. Periodically our volunteers deal with motorists who swerve around road closed signs and our emergency vehicles thinking they can get through the scene. Violation of these laws can result in the motorist being issued a traffic citation and being summonsed to court by law enforcement.

The Field Support Team division has grown over the years to provide traffic and crowd control as well as setting up landing zones for medical helicopters landing on the scene of accidents. The members of the Field Support Team have monthly meetings, as well as train monthly to provide a professional level of service we have grown accustomed to. “We train regularly to ensure our members are safe and can handle nearly any type of scenario they are presented with”, said Tom Ecker, Executive Director of the Madison County Emergency Management Agency. In total, EMA has nearly 100 volunteers trained in several different specializations to support emergency services during times of large emergencies, and disasters which may impact Madison County, IN. To learn more about EMA and our volunteers, check out the Madison Co EMA website.