Column: Teamwork, safety priority on scene

The overturned tanker trailer is braced as Duke Energy works to shut off the power so the semi can be moved on Aug. 14. Because of its location near power lines, it took crews eight hours to remove the diesel fuel tanker. (Submitted photo)

The overturned tanker trailer is braced as Duke Energy works to shut off the power so the semi can be moved on Aug. 14. Because of its location near power lines, it took crews eight hours to remove the diesel fuel tanker. (Submitted photo)

Commentary by Joe Lyons

As Westfield fire chief, it is never good when a semi-trailer gets into an accident on a major road, but when a tanker filled with diesel fuel rolls over and then rests on power lines, well that reaches another level of a dangerous situation.

On Aug. 14, a semi-trailer driver was attempting to avoid hitting another vehicle on Ind. 32 by turning north on Casey Road, instead the driver lost control of the semi and it crashed. As emergency crews rushed out to the scene they learned the good news first; the driver was safe. However the situation quickly unfolded.

As chief, I was quickly alerted to what was happening. We knew it would take a fair amount of time before Ind. 32, between Ditch and Spring Mill roads, was reopened to traffic. I quickly alerted the team, that we needed our command center. There were 15 agencies helping with the crash scene, bringing our command center on site, gave the crews a central location to get an updated timeline and information on the situation.

Crews from across Hamilton County had to safely move a semi-trailer filled with fuel, but before they could start Duke Energy had to unhook the guide wires the truck was resting on, and then reconnect them to another power source. It took Duke Energy crews almost three hours to safely reconnect the guide wires and get them out of the way. Once that was complete, it then took two wrecking companies and three tow trucks to move the tanker.

About eight hours later, the road was back open and a few hours after that power was fully restored. Not a bad day’s work for a Westfield fire chief.

Joe Lyons is fire chief for the City of Westfield. He may be reached at 804-3333 or jlyons@westfield.in.gov.