Thanking Our First Responders


Originally posted in The Rawlings-Blake Review, Issue #168

On the night of Friday, June 14, Baltimore City police officers responded to an auto accident on I-83, the Jones Falls Expressway. As is common practice, the Department of Transportation also deployed a tow truck to remove the vehicle and ease traffic congestion. This set of events is not out of the ordinary, and is something we do on a routine basis on the JFX. But on Friday, this particular situation escalated, becoming a crisis when a passing driver struck the emergency vehicles on the shoulder, injuring the responding officer, and throwing the tow truck driver over the barrier into the Jones Falls below.

While emergency units responded to the accident on the highway, quick-thinking police officers responded. They rushed down the embankment and crossed the rushing water to be by the driver’s side. They stabilized him, and waited for the Fire Department to arrive with an extraction team.

The Fire Department was notified that someone had been thrown off the JFX, and dispatch deployed members of the Special Operations Command to the scene. In 2012, we overhauled the SOC and moved it to a permanent location in Locust Point. This change makes it possible for us to quickly deploy rescue teams anywhere in the city—including to Friday night’s scene below the JFX.

When the SOC team arrived, police officers had stabilized the driver, but he still needed to be removed from the middle of the rising river. With all the rain we had last week, the river was higher and rougher than usual. SOC team members courageously crossed the rushing water, using an extended ladder as a bridge, and prepared the driver to be transported safely. The tow truck driver was taken to Shock Trauma for treatment and was able to return home that very night.

This week, we held a special press conference to applaud the bravery and dedication of the first responders involved in last Friday’s rescue. Their heroic efforts helped save a life, and prevented the situation from becoming a tragedy. Take a moment to watch this story from WJZ-TV on their efforts, and join me in thanking our first responders.

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