The Emergency Responder Safety Institute presents the podcast, a closer look at hot topics, new information, innovative approaches, and case studies in responder safety at roadway incidents and in traffic incident management. Listen for practical, actionable information you can implement today at your next roadway incident response to improve safety of emergency response personnel and the public, no matter which agency you work for. Come learn from interviews and special features with experts and leaders in emergency services. All agencies who respond to roadway incidents — fire, EMS, fire police, law enforcement, DOT, safety service patrols, special traffic units, medevac, and towing and recovery — are all welcome and will find value in what we discuss.

Rod Ammon: Welcome to the podcast, brought to you by the Emergency Responder Safety Institute, a committee of the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Fireman's Association. To remain mindful of why we do this work, we start every podcast with an update of emergency responders struck by fatalities. As of September, 2023, 27 emergency responders have been struck and killed while operating at roadway incident scenes. We have information on the loss of these responders and Memorial tribute available at Our thoughts are with their families and colleagues.

Joining us today is Cindy Iodice of Flagman Incorporated. Flagman is a nonprofit organization that promotes awareness of Slow Down, Move Over through K through 12 education outreach initiatives. Flagman teaches students about their responsibility to speak up for or act on Slow Down, Move Over when driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Flagman also advocates for traffic safety and collaborates with policymakers to strengthen SDMO laws and establish a national Slow Down, Move Over Day.

Cindy Iodice is Flagman's founder and CEO. Cindy's family has been deeply rooted in the towing industry for 70 years. Her father, Russ, is a member of the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame. On April 22nd, 2020, Cindy's brother Cory Iodice was struck and killed while assisting a disabled motorist, the driver who struck him failed to slow down and move over. Cindy is a passionate advocate for protecting first responders, highway workers and the motoring public. In 2022, she was awarded the Traffic Safety Leadership Hero Award by AAA Northeast in recognition of her unwavering dedication and tireless efforts to promote traffic safety. In 2023, the Governor's Highway Safety Association awarded Flagman Incorporated the 2023 Peter K. O'Rourke Special Achievement Award in Times Square. Welcome to the podcast, Cindy. We're sorry for the loss of your brother.

Cindy Iodice: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Rod Ammon: So let's start at the beginning. Where did the idea of Flagman come from?

Cindy Iodice: Well, a couple of months after my brother was struck and killed, I returned home to Honolulu and the pandemic was well underway. People were home and meeting on Zoom. So we started, my media team and I, my creatives, well, we started meeting on Zoom and I think it took us two, maybe three weeks to come up with a concept that we thought could outlive all of us actually. So the first thing we visited was whether Slow Down, Move Over was the right catchphrase. And then when we determined that we felt like we couldn't come up with something stronger, then we started looking into the idea of creating a character that could represent the Slow Down, Move Over movement. And one of our team members who's now 83 years old, Tony Apalato, he worked in advertising.

He's from Kauai, but he worked in advertising in New York back in the seventies, and he won awards for ad campaigns like Let Your Fingers Do The Walking, Riunite on Ice is Nice, Dial-A-Lash Mascara. So he had a long-standing relationship with successful campaigns, and he said, what if we animate Flagman on the sign that we see everywhere on the side of the road? What if we take that character that already has safety colors, is universally recognized as a safety icon, and bring him to life and make Flagman the spokesperson of Slow Down, Move Over and a trusted source for the driving public.

Rod Ammon: Well, appreciate the work and the research you did to figure out, as you said, the catchphrase. There's been a lot of people go back and forth, Move over, Slow down, Slow Down, Move Over. It seems as though Slow Down, Move Over has taken the lead in that world and well, I'm glad Flagman's out there doing what they're doing. And I guess that leads into why you decided to focus on this, the K through 12 education?

Cindy Iodice: Yeah. Well, I just remember when I was in elementary school having programs, police officers, firemen come into the school, and that always stayed with me. So I just happened to have family members who were, at the time, were preteens and we were developing the concept. And so I took the idea of Flagman coming off the sign and asked them to do a prototype, and they sent me back eight seconds of Flagman jumping off the sign, running into the road and doing this dance. And I sent it to the kids in my family and said, what do you think? And they were like, cool. This is so cool. And then when we did our 32nd PSA, I asked them what they thought was cool about it, and one of the responses was, I love the way Flagman jumps off and back on the sign.

And I like how he's protecting daddy out there. And so once I knew that kids could relate and thought it was cool, we decided to build the education program around the concept. We wanted to get something that is kind of family friendly and the kids in our family are really a big part of how we built the program. So for example, while we were thinking of how are we going to do this, so let's do school assemblies, and we decided K to two, three to five, six to eight and high school, reasonable grade bands. So I asked the kids, again, when you go to a school assembly, what makes you want to pay attention? And they said, when our friends are up on stage and when we get gift cards to participate, those two things we incorporated. And actually in our K to five education outreach assemblies, we asked for 14 volunteers and the kids lose their minds trying to become a volunteer to get up there to be a Flagman safety ambassador.

But really we felt that if kids can, we want to help change the driving culture. And so we're looking down the road, we know we're not going to change it overnight, but we are trying to help be a part of the movement to change the driving culture to a safer driving culture. And so we thought if we start with kids young before they ever get behind the wheel and teach them right behavior, and that these are the same kids that are sitting in the backseat telling their parents what's right and wrong out there on the road, that's really where the heart of Flagman lies. And eventually these kids are going to get Flagman every year, kindergarten through 12th grade, and they're going to go from being active passengers to responsible drivers.

Rod Ammon: It's beautiful. It's great to be, I think you and I both know, and since we're involved in media, people often want that quick social media bump that's going to create a change tomorrow. And what we really know is that these things take time and years to make a change, it seems to me. Would you agree?

Cindy Iodice: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And we recently launched the education outreach program in Fairfield, Connecticut, and it's the place I was born and raised. It's also the place where my family business has been and also where Corey was struck and killed. So I babysat my way through elementary school and middle school and I think the early years of high school, which is where I saved my money for my one-way ticket to Hawaii. But so I didn't realize when we were doing the education outreach program to, I think we did 13 schools, 8,500 students, that some of the kids that I babysat had kids in the town and going to those schools. And so I just got bombarded with emails and text messages and phone calls saying, were you at Riverfield School today? Because my daughter came home telling me all about Flagman. And it just really reemphasized for us that the heart of the program is within teaching kids and that kids will become the ambassadors and the change makers in road safety.

Rod Ammon: We totally agree and we love seeing it. I know there's some things going on in the driver ed world and love to see what you're doing, and I know you're going to tell me a little bit more about it. I did see that you keep the program somewhere between 18 and 22 minutes and that it's also scalable. You want to talk about that?

Cindy Iodice: Yeah. So we quickly learned the short attention span that we have as young people or that we have in our young people. So we have a 30-minute program that can be done in 18 to 20 to 25 minutes, depending on just the flow of the presentation. And what the Flagman presentation looks like is, we asked for community volunteers, one from fire, police, paramedic, tow, DOT. And really the program is about teaching the first responders and highway workers in the community who the kids are in the community and teaching the kids who's working on the side of the road. So we're creating empathy, compassion, sympathy, understanding in the eyes of the kids that maybe Lieutenant Paris is on the side of the road mom. I see a firetruck and we should slow down and move over. So really the program is the first responders working with the kids to teach them what they wear, what they drive, what they're doing on the side of the road.

Each of the first responders gets to hold up a cardboard cutout of one of their vehicles. So the kids not only see what they wear, but what they might be driving on the side of the road. And then we do three scenarios. Our first scenario is that all responders have been called to the scene. And so we demonstrate in what order they typically arrive, and the first responders demonstrate why they park their vehicles the way that they do, what they're thinking about when they're out there, and how their primary goal is to keep everyone on the scene safe. Once we get all the responders on the side of the road and the tow truck comes for the vehicles, and this is a hands-on demo, this is all set up on a three lane road, one being the shoulder. We have the kids volunteers drive cardboard cutout cars down the road, and if they're not in the front of the room participating, they're in the audience telling their classmates that they need to slow down and move over. And the kids literally, they lose their mind. Screaming, slow down, move over, which I can only imagine is a good thing for all of us, that repetition. And once we finish that scenario, then we let DOT set up a scenario and they talk about the pattern that they lay out for safety with their cones and what's important about the work that they're doing because they're really on the side of the road every day, everywhere. I've been in Connecticut for less than a week, and I've seen more road construction and Flagman signs and DOT workers, cones, all, everything, everywhere in the short amount of time that I've been here.

So it's really important that the DOT, what's going on on the side of the roads and side of our highways is pointed out as a very dangerous job. And then the last scenario that we set up is sometimes we let the kids know, sometimes you won't see a police car, a fire car, an ambulance, you'll only see a tow truck, which of course, when my brother went to that call on April 22nd, 2020, he was not just the first responder, he was the only responder. And so we want kids to understand that often you'll just see the tow truck or the flatbed on the side of the road, and you still need to slow down and move over or advise your driver to slow down and move over. So that's really the program, yeah.

Rod Ammon: And the beauty of it is, it sounds like anyone can deliver it, and Flagman provides the resources for the program content.

Cindy Iodice: That's exactly it. Anybody can moderate it. In fact, David Ferraro, who works for Connecticut DOT, was struck in 1995 on Interstate 95 in Greenwich. He ran a couple of the entire scenarios, the grades K to two and three to five at one of the local elementary schools. And I stood in the back and filmed and observed, and anybody can run it. Anybody who's got a passion for road safety can run it. Any of the first responders can run it. And so yeah, it's going to be scalable that way, right? Sorry, I think that was the question.

Our resources are going to be available online. We're going to say, here's what you need and we're going to help with trying to figure out the funding part for every state, for every DOT office. And then we are going to have teams of Flagman ambassadors and Flagman education outreach teams in every state. And then we will, once we get rooted in a state, then the goal will just be to scale up. So we will have some demos on how to do it. I'll probably fly into a couple of places and just get people going. But Flagman has a brand, and so the look and the feel, the message will be the same across the board.

Rod Ammon: And you've got a great story and a lot of passion, and I think that'll make a difference because you're out there competing with a lot of people for the attention of kids and time during the school year. So I have a lot of respect for that. What did you learn from your pre and post surveys?

Cindy Iodice: Yeah, such a great question. Surprisingly, I think the biggest surprise to me, it didn't matter if they were in kindergarten, third grade or even 12th grade. One of the questions we asked is, who works on the side of the road? And we gave a list, police, fire, tow, paramedic, DOT, and I was surprised at, in the younger kids we said, pick. Pick the ones that work on the side of the road. And so there were always these, kind of, these oddball combinations. It wasn't unusual for kids to pick tow and DOT. It was common for kids to not pick paramedic and fire, which I was really surprised at. So we're trying to change the thinking that firemen only put out house fires, that fire personnel are only putting out house fires that they're often not only on the side of the road, but their truck is the one blocking the scene now for the safety of others.

So for kindergarten through second graders, 23% of the kids correctly guessed who worked on the side of the road in the beginning of the, before the assembly. At the end of the assembly, 80%, we got that number from 23% understanding who works on the side of the road to 80% at the end. In the grades three through five, we were at about 30% getting those correct answers in the beginning and 90% at the end. And then we did ask the kids in grades three through five if they had heard of Slow Down, Move Over and 53% of the students thought they might've heard something about that. But at the end, 90% were able to articulate what it means to slow down and move over and why it's important. In high school, we did the secondary crashes. What is a secondary crash? And I think the answers were a less important crash, a crash on a side street, a crash without injuries, or what happens when a driver fails to slow down and move over.

And so 77% of the students were able to identify a secondary crash prior to the assembly. And at the end we had that number up to 96%. And then the high school kids, 48% thought that they knew Slow Down, Move Over in the beginning. And at the end we got that number up to 96%. But we also asked them to write about it. And we have hundreds of statements from kids speaking about the danger of working on the side of the road and why we have Slow Down, Move Over and its importance. But for everybody, we really talked about how our actions impact others, the importance of being an active passenger and who grows and matures into a responsible driver. I mean, it was incredible to see the jump in results from beginning to an end that in less than 30 minutes we could teach such important lessons about road safety.

Rod Ammon: Beautiful, love the way you wrapped it up and measured. It's so meaningful when you're looking out for success, first of all, and funding at the same time. So what phase is Flagman in with the public education program? You were talking about it a little bit before we got on.

Cindy Iodice: Yeah, so Connecticut DOT gave us a little bit of money to run our pilot program, which we did in April of 2023. And the goal was to see if what we thought would work, worked, and it does. And so now we're looking at scaling up. So Connecticut DOT has already committed to helping us expand our program in the next academic year by adding school districts through the grant that they're giving us. But we're really out there pounding the pavement, looking for funding so that we can scale up. Really, the only thing that's keeping Flagman from being everywhere is we need large teams of people who believe in road safety and want to help launch it in their state and finding the money to help us make that happen. And of course, we're trying to keep the cost to a minimum, but there's certain props that we need in order for the demonstration to be effective with the kids.

And then Hawaii DOT asked us to write a three-year budget with their governor, Highway Safety Administration, and we're going to be working them in the next month to begin that process. I'm very excited about that. But we have a five-year plan for Flagman. The team at Flagman have a 10 year plan. By 20 years we're going to be in every state. And I think our goal is seven countries. So it's an international brand that we plan to scale up over time. So hopefully in the next year we'll be in three to five states and then we'll grow from there.

Rod Ammon: Well, good for you. I know that, and good for all of us. I know that I was talking to you previously about Responder Safety Learning Network and seeing what was happening in Hawaii. And Hawaii was one of the first places where we saw this grasp of the online network and many of the responders jumped on it. So we're grateful for that. And now I think we have 140,000 users and there are people in a lot of other countries that are jumping on board, even though we're US funded. It's just good to see. There's obviously a lot of interest and well, unfortunately, there's a need. So how can public educators and responders bring Flagman into their local community and schools?

Cindy Iodice: So it just starts with going to and signing up for newsletters, signing up to be an ambassador and reaching out to us, letting us know there's an interest, and we will help develop the team, create the team, and get the resources to the right area. And obviously if there's any funding sources out there, we'd be interested in applying for everything and anything that we can. We did secure a relationship with Honda this year, and I'm really excited about that, getting that door open. So I think anybody in automobile transportation and insurance industry, they should all be jumping on Flagman and throwing money to help us expand it. But when it comes to public education and the school systems, we just need a foot in the door and a point person to start that communication and to start setting up these assemblies.

Rod Ammon: I've talked to a lot of people over the years, many of them filmmakers, many of them different people that are into just different associations and whatnot, and there are people who have passion and there are people who succeed. And you sound like both, so I don't know.

Cindy Iodice: Yes. Yep. Sorry, go ahead.

Rod Ammon: I just feel good about what you're telling me. I love the thought process that you and your people have gone through and it's great. So thank you for the work you're doing. Tell me a little bit about your advocacy and policy work. What's your focus?

Cindy Iodice: Yeah. Well, our focus is on establishing a national Slow Down, Move Over Day, not just in Cory's honor, my brother, but for everybody who's been affected, who's been fatally struck or gravely injured. I've met so many people whose lives have been impacted physically as a result of these incidences. So our first goal is to help establish a national Slow Down, Move Over Day. And after going through the legal system, and I'm actually in Connecticut for more legal steps that we have to take as a family from the death of Corey. But it was so disappointing. Somebody told me before, to lower your expectations when you get into court, and I think that we need to do better in this area of accountability because the guy who killed my brother will maybe spend two years in jail. He got 10 years suspended after four and a half, and then there's good behavior and he'll likely be out next August.

And the only thing that Connecticut offered for Slow Down, Move Over was a $10,000 fine. And the one victory that we felt like we did come away with, oh, well we had a couple of victories in court. One was, it was the first time in Connecticut court history that Slow Down, Move Over Law was applied and the law is up to $10,000 fine. So the victory was that it was spoken and is on record, and that that $10,000 will be paid to Flagman during that five-year probationary period of the defendant who killed my brother. But there was no jail time associated with it. So some of our other goals, we've been working with Senator Blumenthal who brought in Senator Braun from Indiana and together, we're trying to raise awareness. Senator Blumenthal is going to try to strengthen laws, and if we can establish a national Slow Down, Move Over Day, that will help all of us reach a wider audience when it comes to road safety.

Rod Ammon: Yeah, my understanding is that the posting of that information and the enforcement has actually worked when it's done. So I'm glad to hear you're working on that, and again, appreciate what you're doing. To wrap up for today. Why don't you tell me about how the people who are listening can support Flagman?

Cindy Iodice: Yeah. Well, listen, if you can go onto and sign up for the newsletter, send us a message, become a supporter and ambassador, you can donate. We have incentives for partnerships and sponsorships in the areas of funding, we offer a lot of local incentives so we can partner together with others who are in road safety, who want to move forward with us. But for the general public, if you can make a donation, that certainly would be a great help. And if you can't do that, @istandwithflagman is our social media handle. is where we are on Facebook and we, reposting our posts and really just talking to people around you about the importance of Slow Down, Move Over.

I think the biggest challenge that those of us who have been gravely, have had this difficult experience of losing a family member is how do we reach people before this happens to them, right? That's the big mystery. How do we get people to pay attention before they have to sit in the seat that I'm sitting in and having to live with this tragedy? So really just talking about Slow Down, Move Over and practicing it, teaching your kids, signing up for, reaching out to us and becoming part of our education outreach team. Those are all great things. That would help us expand.

Rod Ammon: Well, as it seems all along, as I've heard your story, you've thought it through and just grateful for that. I know how hard that is. Sometimes you come off great, you make it sound simple, but people who've done these kinds of things understand the amount of work and sweat that it takes to do that. And well, again, we're just very grateful. It's beautiful to see and hear about the work you're doing, and I believe an important piece of the puzzle of how we reduce struck by deaths and injuries, especially with this dealing with the K through 12 as you are. I hope everyone will check out Flagman at And once again, Cindy, thank you so much for your time.

Cindy Iodice: Thank you. Thank you so much.

Rod Ammon: Now for news from Since our last episode, has released three new Responder Safety Learning Network modules. TIM Techniques for Weather Events spotlights, how weather impacts emergency scenes on roadways and provides guidance for how to plan and respond when weather conditions significantly affect the incident. Personal Protective Equipment for Roadway Incident Response bridges the gap between knowing that working on the roadway is a life safety hazard and consistently and correctly wearing the proper PPE to reduce the risk of death and injury. The module discusses PPE requirements and how to select and correctly and consistently wear PPE from head to toe, including high visibility apparel and head protection. Integrating Roadway Safety into Community Risk Reduction programs introduces roadway safety and safe driving practices that life safety educators from all roadway response organizations can use to reduce the incidents of roadway incidents in their communities.

These modules are available now on That's Responder Safety Learning Network, We've also made many updates on since our last podcast, including new distracted driving PSAs, editorials, new resources on our public educators and PIO page, and new information on a roadway response helmet standard. If you know of an incident where a person or an emergency vehicle is struck while operating at a roadway incident, please report it at It's simple, We're continuing to collect these reports to better understand how struck by incidents occur so we can determine what training, public education and safety messaging is needed to reduce struck by incidents. This entire program is supported by the Federal Highway Administration. Anyone can file a report and reports from all response groups are accepted. The site is mobile device responsive for easy reporting from the field or the station. We hope you will check out and make it part of your routine to report any struck by incidents that occurred during your roadway responses. Even if it's a near miss, go in there. It takes a couple of minutes to document what happened so all of us can learn. We started to analyze the data gathered so far, and expect to update the public shortly on what we've learned to date.

This podcast, and the Responder Safety Learning Network are made possible by funding from a fire prevention and safety grant from the Assistance to Firefighters grant program administered by FEMA and the US Department of Homeland Security, we appreciate your support and remember to share these podcasts with your colleagues to spread the word about safety practices at roadway incident scenes. Thanks for joining us today on the podcast. Stay safe everybody. We'll see you next time for, I'm Rod Ammon.

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