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First responders meet with transportation officials to discuss roadside safety

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The idea behind Shut It Down is to close interstates during emergencies so first responders don't have to work alongside traffic. (Source: WAVE 3 News) The idea behind Shut It Down is to close interstates during emergencies so first responders don't have to work alongside traffic. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
On Thursday in Leitchfield, fire fighters, police, even tow truck drivers met with state transportation officials to voice concerns. (Source: WAVE 3 News) On Thursday in Leitchfield, fire fighters, police, even tow truck drivers met with state transportation officials to voice concerns. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Glendale Fire Chief Richard Peters (Source: WAVE 3 News) Glendale Fire Chief Richard Peters (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Patty Dunaway (Source: WAVE 3 News) Patty Dunaway (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Clarkson Fire Assistant Chief Ken Lashley (Source: WAVE 3 News) Clarkson Fire Assistant Chief Ken Lashley (Source: WAVE 3 News)

GRAYSON COUNTY, KY (WAVE) – The social media debate continues, should roadways be shut down during emergency scenes to protect first responders?

On Thursday in Leitchfield, fire fighters, police, even tow truck drivers met with state transportation officials to voice concerns.

This meeting was initially scheduled by Kentucky Transportation Cabinet with Grayson County first responders, but multiple other agencies showed up to join in a discussion of safety. It's a concern that is on a lot of minds after the death of a volunteer fire fighter.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Volunteer FD, KYTC officials clash over emergency scene closure]

“It's not an argument, we're not debating it, we're not laying blame, but we've learned that we have to put ourselves first,” said Glendale Fire Chief Richard Peters.

Peters had a strong message for a room filled with first responders after losing one of his own. Volunteer fire fighter Jonathan French, 25, was struck and killed while working a scene on Interstate 65. Since then the Shut it Down Facebook movement has gathered huge support. The idea is to close interstates during emergencies so first responders don't have to work alongside traffic.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says sometimes keeping roadways shut down for extended periods of time can lead to secondary crashes that could end up worse.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Glendale fire chief 'A thousand thank you cards not enough' after firefighter's death]

“I think every area fights this issue, but it is just a matter of keeping every person out there safe,” said Patty Dunaway, with KYTC.

Dunaway says first responders to a scene will always decide if a roadway should be closed.

“We encourage that, we want them to do what they need to do, but we also want to work with them and let the police department to kind of make the decision as to when it is ok to open that road back up and get the traffic moving again,” said Dunaway.

Clarkson Fire Assistant Chief Ken Lashley says his department has already made changes to their guidelines for their safety, like sending an extra truck to every fire or crash.

“The sole purpose of it is going to divert traffic away from us,” said Lashley.

While the Glendale Fire Department vows to ‘shut it down'.

“I'm not going to let Jonathan be the one died that in vein, if that means we've got to change something, and then we are going to change it, whether we do it on our level and we have repercussions that we have to face, we're going to change it. We're going to make ourselves safe,” said Peters.

For more information on Shut it Down, click here.

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