Ambulances & Vehicle Ops, Operations, Patient Care

Motorcades Require Advanced Planning

JEMS.com Editor’s Note:For more on how dispatch delays can occur during a motorcade, also read “Response Time Questioned Following Dallas Officer’s Crash.”

A Dallas Police Dept. motorcycle officer was killed Friday while escorting presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton through the city’s streets. Dallas Fire Dept paramedics attempted to resuscitate Senior Cpl. Victor Lozada, a 20-year veteran of the department, on scene after his motorcycle struck a curb and hit a retaining wall on the Houston Street viaduct but he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival at nearby Methodist Hospital.

Lozada, 49, was escorting Sen. Clinton to a rally in the city’s Oak Cliff section and was near the rear of the motorcade as it headed south on the viaduct when the accident happened about 9:15 a.m.

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Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle noted that the motorcycle escorts are very dangerous, requiring officers to speed up, ride ahead of the motorcade and then repeat the process over and over again. He said this always presents an element of danger.

This is the third fatality involving police motorcycle escort officers in presidential candidate motorcades in the past 15 months, and the 13th accident involving police motorcycles in a presidential motorcade since April 1983.„A motorcycle officer was killed in August while escorting a motorcade for President Bush in„Albuquerque,„N.M. There was a similar fatal crash involving a presidential motorcade in„Hawaii in November 2006.

In addition to the three fatalities, the motorcycle collisions occurring during presidential motorcades or motorcades of presidential candidates have produced a dozen injured officers, often involving more than one motorcycle at each incident location.„(See death and injury summary below.)

These injured officers had to be managed by EMS crews in the areas where the collisions occurred, indicating a defined, high-risk, high-probability environment that EMS systems must be aware of, and plan for, when involved in dignitary protection details and escorts.

It’s important for EMS officials to realize that when an ambulance is assigned to a presidential detail, its primary mission is to be available to treat and transport the president„or other high-ranking official in the motorcade and that the ambulance and its crew will be under the direction of the U.S. Secret Service. When escorting a presidential candidate, it’s up to the agent in charge of the motorcade to decide whether that primary ambulance can pull out of the motorcade to treat a downed officer if an incident such as what happened on Friday in„Dallas occurs.

Therefore, EMS systems should plan to have extra treatment and transport resources assigned to the detail so that a crew can be rapidly deployed to assist an “officer down” as soon as possible after an incident occurs and allow an ambulance to remain with the presidential motorcade.

Failure to plan for and have a second ambulance immediately available when an incident of this nature occur could result in a significant delay in the transportation of a critically injured patient from a scene along the motorcade route.

Past Political Motorcade Crashes

1 DEATH„–„Aug. 27, 2007: Rio Rancho, N.M., police officer Germaine F. Casey, 40, died while escorting President George W. Bush’s motorcade from a political fund-raiser back to„Albuquerque airport. The back wheel of Casey’s motorcycle began to slide, causing the bike to hit a curb, then a tree, throwing the officer 20 feet into the air. An ambulance in the president’s motorcade stopped to provide assistance, as did a member of the White House medical staff. Casey was taken to University of New Mexico Hospital, where he died.

1 DEATH,„2INJURIES –„ Nov. 26, 2006:„Honolulu police officer Steve Favela died five days after his motorcycle collided with two others at Hickam Air Force Base. Favela was escorting President Bush’s motorcade to a breakfast with troops on Nov. 21. The other officers involved in the crash were treated and released.

1 INJURY — Feb. 3, 2006:„Bernalillo,„N.M., Sgt. Jerry Nixon was injured when he lost control of his motorcycle while escorting President Bush_s motorcade on Interstate 40 near„Albuquerque. Nixon suffered cuts, bruises and a broken nose, and was hospitalized overnight at University of New Mexico Hospital.

1 INJURY –„ Sept. 24, 2004:„A Philadelphia Police Dept. Highway Patrol officer swerved to avoid debris in the road and fell from the motorcycle, suffering abrasions and an injury to his left arm. He was escorting presidential candidate John Kerry’s motorcade to an event at the„University of„Pennsylvania in„Philadelphia. The officer, who was not identified, was hospitalized overnight for observation and released.

1 INJURY –„ July 26, 2004:„Brevard County Sheriff’s deputy Eric Daddow lost control of his motorcycle and crashed while escorting presidential candidate John Kerry’s motorcade to„Kennedy„Space„Center in„Cape Canaveral,„Fla. Daddow was taken to„Holmes„Regional„Medical„Center with bruising and severe road rash.

1 INJURY –„ Aug. 31, 2000:„A„Seattle police officer lost control of her motorcycle and crashed, breaking her ankle, while preparing to escort Vice President Al Gore’s motorcade back to Boeing Field from Westlake Center„where he was attending a presidential campaign event. Gore was not in the motorcade at the time.

1 INJURY –„ March 3, 2000:„A„San Jose,„Calif., police officer was involved in an accident on Highway 101 while escorting President Clinton’s motorcade on a visit to„Silicon Valley. The officer was treated for a leg injury at a local hospital.

2 INJURIES (two separate accidents) –„ Feb. 18, 1995:„Two Florida motorcycle officers were injured in two separate accidents while escorting Vice President Al Gore’s motorcade to events in Boca Raton, Fla. In the first accident, Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. M. Gusman suffered minor injuries when his motorcycle was hit on Interstate 95 by a Lincoln Town Car that left the accident scene. Later that day,„Palm Beach„County sheriff’s deputy Mitch Reiger was injured when he crashed his motorcycle on„Dixie Highway while escorting Gore’s motorcade out of the city.

2 INJURIES –„ Nov. 19, 1993:„Two motorcycle officers were injured in a crash in downtown Seattle involving three motorcycles that were escorting then-President Bill Clinton to his hotel. The officers injured were with the King County Police and Seattle Police Department, but the names of the officers were not released.

1 DEATH –„ March 6, 1992:„Florida Deputy Sheriff Kevin D. Mathews was killed when his motorcycle collided with a limousine while escorting presidential candidate Paul Tsongas from a campaign event in„Palm Beach.

1 INJURY –„ April 30, 1983:„A Houston Police Officer suffered minor injuries when his motorcycle collided with another officer’s while escorting President Ronald Reagan into the city from the airport. Officer Ralph Gonzales was taken to the hospital, and Officer Harold Prothero escaped injury.

Source:„Star-Telegram news researcher Marcia Melton