Last year, 46 first responders were struck and killed across the U.S. Nearly 50% were tow truck operators assisting with an accident or disabled vehicle. In an effort to provide enhanced protection for their workers, Yocum Towing & Recovery has added a new concept emergency response vehicle, the ERTMA (Emergency Response TMA) truck, to their fleet.
The Allentown, Pa.-based company, which services major highways in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas, acquired the vehicle from Royal Truck & Equipment in response to the increasing dangers their crews face when working on the roadway.
The ERTMA is equipped with a truck-mounted attenuator (also known as a crash cushion), generator, arrow and message boards, storage compartments for recovery equipment, and connected technology that transmits a signal via GPS to give advanced warning to approaching drivers of activity in the area.
The ERTMA concept was built based on engineering designs of Royal's TMA (truck mounted attenuator) truck, which has traditionally been used in highway work zones to act as a barrier between work crews and the traveling public, according to Rob Roy, president of Royal Truck & Equipment.
After spending 30 years in the highway construction industry, he is excited to see this type of equipment being used in the towing and recovery industry.
"Our mission has always been to help workers get home to their families at the end of their shift,” Roy said. “First responders deserve the same protection as construction workers given the dangers of working out on the roadway."
As lights and signs become less effective in gaining the attention of approaching drivers, the need for protective equipment has become increasingly more vital to ensuring emergency responder safety.
"Being out on the roadway, I've seen multiple secondary accidents happen,” Evan Yocum said. "This has been life-changing for us."
Slocum noted they've had several fire companies and tow companies reach out to him to inquire about the ERTMA: "Absolutely, no doubt about it… it's meant for the safety of the general public."