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Step up? or Step Back?

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  • Step up? or Step Back?

    Years ago I wrote an article for Firehouse after the Sandy Hook shooting on how the fire service could play a role in shootings. Power of the Badge: http://www.firehouse.com/article/108...eling-helpless

    But that was when our shooters were lone gunmen and painted as misfits. Time have changed and so must we.

    Our communities are in fear of this new threat and looking for safety. While preventing a shooting such as we are seeing in San Bernardino is way beyond our scope, but should firefighters now be educated on how to educate the public on how to react and respond to a shooting?

    Our communities need to feel safe, and the more public agencies like the fire service reach out with the message "hey we got this" the safer they will feel and more empowered when receiving the education. The high survival rate at the Bostom Bombing was credited to the early intervention of civilian bystanders who were trained to simply stop bleeding...

    Is this a new front on our battlefield? Should we step up like we did for EMS, Hazmat, Spec-Rescue, water rescue, etc.. We will respond to the MCI following an incident so should we not educate on it?

  • #2
    Should we educate the public on how to react and respond to a shooting? No. What makes us experts in that field? I say nothing does. Not to mention that every incident will be different. Tell them to shelter in place and they're sitting ducks. Tell them to evacuate and they're at the mercy of an outside gunman. This falls under security/law enforcement. Not part of the core mission of the fire service. Not to mention we can't even keep up with the current core mission.

    If you have the time, energy, staffing, money and resources to teach first aid, then go ahead. But restrict it to that.

    Come on Captnjak. The Red Cross is making all kinds of progress with just volunteers and donations, haven't we had this conversation? :-)

    Ok if not how to respond to a shooting how about how to stop bleeding? How to use/make a tourniquet? How to do an initial triage? What to expect when we arrive and how to help and not hinder? These were elements identified as the reason for the low body count at the Bostom Bombing - quick and proper reaction by bystanders.

    How to respond if someone walks in the door and starts shooting may be outside our venue, but how to handle the aftermath until we arrive is well within our venue and in our best interest. Money and staffing are no longer an excuse for our inactivity in these programs - thank you ARC.

    Always good talking to you Captnjak.
    Last edited by Daniel Byrne; 12-04-2015, 10:00 AM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by captnjak View Post
      Should we educate the public on how to react and respond to a shooting? No. What makes us experts in that field? I say nothing does. Not to mention that every incident will be different. Tell them to shelter in place and they're sitting ducks. Tell them to evacuate and they're at the mercy of an outside gunman. This falls under security/law enforcement. Not part of the core mission of the fire service. Not to mention we can't even keep up with the current core mission.

      If you have the time, energy, staffing, money and resources to teach first aid, then go ahead. But restrict it to that.
      Well said.
      "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

      Comment


      • #4
        If we can stay focused on that - just ONE contact can save lives. If every firefighter committed to contacting ONE person a day with a simple message - imagine the difference we can make. Look at this story:

        http://www.firehouse.com/news/121453...recommendation

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks Bones42. As I stated to Captnjak, at a minimum we should start teaching citizens how to handle the aftermath. A simple tourniquet could save lives and the public wants to feel safe and empowerment can do that.

          Comment


          • #6
            Like I said, if you have the time, energy, resources, staffing and finances to teach first aid then go right ahead. Great idea. Most departments will not have any real ability to do it. I believe that is the reality we face.

            The Boston bombings were located right at the finish line where much of the medical resources were already staged. I'm sure bystanders did help some. At a scene of intense carnage such as that it will be very difficult to get much real help from the average civilian. Many professionals would be thrown for a loop by the carnage seen that day.

            Money and staffing, sad to say, are ALWAYS an excuse. Not really an excuse either, but a real obstacle to overcome.

            Comment


            • #7
              Yep. If you read the after action report Boston Metro was really prepared for an event - nothing like that mind you, but were close by. But the report did credit bystanders who were first to respond and help handle the MCI which initially still overwhlemed responders.

              I agree staffing/funding is a challenge but we are running out of options. The ARC is proving it can be done. Other agencies are reinventing themselves. Obviously this does not apply to ALL fire departments, but if you have paid firefighters in the station, two hours a week is not much of a burden to meet with the community and teach bleeding control. Sorry Captnjak.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Daniel Byrne View Post
                Yep. If you read the after action report Boston Metro was really prepared for an event - nothing like that mind you, but were close by. But the report did credit bystanders who were first to respond and help handle the MCI which initially still overwhlemed responders.

                I agree staffing/funding is a challenge but we are running out of options. The ARC is proving it can be done. Other agencies are reinventing themselves. Obviously this does not apply to ALL fire departments, but if you have paid firefighters in the station, two hours a week is not much of a burden to meet with the community and teach bleeding control. Sorry Captnjak.
                Sorry for what?

                Comment


                • #9
                  That if a fire station has paid staff then finding an hour or two a week to go out and educate the public and provide prevention services does not place an undue burden on any fire department.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Daniel Byrne View Post
                    Yep. If you read the after action report Boston Metro was really prepared for an event - nothing like that mind you, but were close by. But the report did credit bystanders who were first to respond and help handle the MCI which initially still overwhlemed responders.

                    I agree staffing/funding is a challenge but we are running out of options. The ARC is proving it can be done. Other agencies are reinventing themselves. Obviously this does not apply to ALL fire departments, but if you have paid firefighters in the station, two hours a week is not much of a burden to meet with the community and teach bleeding control. Sorry Captnjak.
                    You want departments to reinvent themselves? You want them to add services?

                    Too many can't even met the minimum standards of fire suppression and emergency response. Let's nail down the core mission before we start adding to it.

                    Look at the "fireground tactics" section of this forum. It's been almost two months since anyone posted there. Maybe we've already "reinvented" ourselves too much.
                    Last edited by captnjak; 12-07-2015, 11:58 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Captnjak. I may have accidentally deleted your previous post I am sorry. I started to reply and saw this post and tried to delete my first reply to keep it under one thread and somehow managed to delete both. But I will answer here:

                      Out of service? Why? Have another apparatus cover the district for small calls and the engine at the event can still be available for major MVAs, arrests, fires, etc. Have a neighboring department cover. It's done all the time. We do it for other events do we not - alternate coverage so an apparatus can be dedicated to a particular event for operational reasons? Why would prevention be different? I don't think the public would think any less of the firefighters having to leave for a fire, and if this department spent two hours a week (let's just say) doing these types of events the chances of them getting an emergency call every time during those two hours is minimal and if so.... is that not a good thing for the public to see firefighters in action and the frequency of calls?

                      Here is the thing and I say it often in my articles. When it comes to the fireground firefighters make no excuses and just get the job done. But when it comes to prevention there is 1000 reasons why it won't work and half-assed attempts are made to do them, which are doomed to fail from the start, and then everyone goes "AH-HA!"

                      How many hours are spend on skills designed to save ourselves? RIT training? Air management? Surviving the mayday? So a couple hours can't be borrowed from this time to apply it to another tactic that will not only increase the chances of saving a civilian, but also firefighters? Think about the hypocrisy in that.

                      To be CLEAR! I have never said, nor will I ever say, prevention should take the place of strategy and tactics or firefighter survival training, but only elevated to the same importance. If we can dedicate 100 hours a year to save ourselves, we should be able to find a couple hours to educate the public.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I'll try to re-post my points that were erased for the benefit of anyone that may give a hoot (unlikely but what the hell).

                        If a unit is in service during this training of the public, what happens when a run is received? They ask the public to wait an unknown and possibly lengthy period of time? After this happens a few times, how likely is the public to continue to participate? Many units/departments will absolutely get a run during this period of time. Having neighboring departments or units cover for them has a negative impact on response time. As important as fire prevention or public education (of any kind) may be, fire and emergency response still trumps all. I don't like units being out of service for response unless absolutely necessary. The emergency we have is more critical than the emergency we MAY have. IMO, units OOS for training is a necessary evil but still must be balanced to the greatest extent possible.

                        If individual firefighters are used to provide this training, are they on OT? Probably yes, because who has "extra" staffing lying around? Now it IS a money issue.

                        Traumatic MCI incidents are more likely to happen in big cities where departments are unionized. How does this affect the training? Work rules can be pretty pesky.

                        Is there a liability issue? Legal issue? Regulatory issue? If we are going to provide training we likely have requirements as to how to do it. And who can do it.

                        What are these "trained" civilians using for PPE? Are we asking them to carry gloves, masks, gowns, tourniquets, etc?

                        Where does the training take place? Many urban firehouses barely have room for the apparatus. No classroom space whatsoever and usually no place to even mimic a classroom.

                        You say we spend 100 hours per year training on saving ourselves, so we should be able to spend a "couple of hours to educate the public". But earlier you stated two hours per week. That adds up to about one hundred hours. You've now equated the two. I believe this is a mistake. Structural fires can and do occur everywhere. Traumatic MCI incidents are much less frequent occurrences.

                        In addition, you don't really know how the public will react when and if it does occur. And it may not happen like it did in Boston where there were thousands of potential do gooders already present. Lastly, a well trained PD will likely round up and shoo away anyone not in a uniform very quickly.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thanks for the repost. Sorry for the delete. My fingers were moving quicker than my brain. That happens more and more with each passing year.

                          The hours I am using I am just pulling out of my head as examples. One hour, four, doesn't matter, its what the dept can afford.

                          If you read the National Response Plan the focus is on communities being prepared when a disaster hits, from man made to terrorism (fire in the middle) and until emergency responders arrive. There are grants and funding out there for these things. That's just FYI.

                          Here is the thing. The main focus is on education and preparing the public to save lives, the second is providing value to our citizens and giving them the feeling of empowerment when most are feeling helpless. Fires are not the main concern of communities today, and we share a responsibility in allowing that, so if we continue in a fire response mode only, then WE are not the communities main concern and THAT equates to budget and funding. The ARC is moving on this and guess who is getting the value and support, while we complain we can't do it.

                          Captnjak all the things you listed are absolutely valid challenges to providing this service. No doubt. However as I stated above, when it comes to the fireground no challenge is too great for us, but when it comes to non-traditional services, that our public wants and values, every challenge becomes an impossibility.

                          For example you state lack of space. Vaid. Partner with a school and use a classroom. (example)
                          Union and work rules. If a union opposes these efforts then take off your badges. Sorry.

                          And in no way would I suggest the public be remotely trained to the level of needing PPE.

                          MCIs happen more than you think and a possibility in any community that has a road, a plant, factory, planes flying overhead, etc. What defines an MCI? An incident that overwhelms resources. By your descriptions fire departments can barely fight fire so the potential for an MCI in those communities are pretty great.

                          And are you willing to roll the dice and say "Naw, never happen here."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Daniel Byrne View Post
                            Thanks for the repost. Sorry for the delete. My fingers were moving quicker than my brain. That happens more and more with each passing year.

                            The hours I am using I am just pulling out of my head as examples. One hour, four, doesn't matter, its what the dept can afford.

                            If you read the National Response Plan the focus is on communities being prepared when a disaster hits, from man made to terrorism (fire in the middle) and until emergency responders arrive. There are grants and funding out there for these things. That's just FYI.

                            Here is the thing. The main focus is on education and preparing the public to save lives, the second is providing value to our citizens and giving them the feeling of empowerment when most are feeling helpless. Fires are not the main concern of communities today, and we share a responsibility in allowing that, so if we continue in a fire response mode only, then WE are not the communities main concern and THAT equates to budget and funding. The ARC is moving on this and guess who is getting the value and support, while we complain we can't do it.

                            Captnjak all the things you listed are absolutely valid challenges to providing this service. No doubt. However as I stated above, when it comes to the fireground no challenge is too great for us, but when it comes to non-traditional services, that our public wants and values, every challenge becomes an impossibility.

                            For example you state lack of space. Vaid. Partner with a school and use a classroom. (example)
                            Union and work rules. If a union opposes these efforts then take off your badges. Sorry.

                            And in no way would I suggest the public be remotely trained to the level of needing PPE.

                            MCIs happen more than you think and a possibility in any community that has a road, a plant, factory, planes flying overhead, etc. What defines an MCI? An incident that overwhelms resources. By your descriptions fire departments can barely fight fire so the potential for an MCI in those communities are pretty great.

                            And are you willing to roll the dice and say "Naw, never happen here."
                            You speak of "non-traditional services that our public wants and values". Do they really? Are the citizens clamoring to be taught how to react to an active shooter incident? It was an active shooter scanario that started this thread after all. But moving on to other MCI's is valid. And yes, they can and do happen everywhere. But are the citizens asking to be taught how to help?

                            Maybe I should have used "BSI" or "universal precautions" instead of "PPE". If we're asking the public to help stop severe bleeding, should we not provide them with protection? If we don't who will? Do they carry it with them 24/7? Certainly they will want it once we teach them how vital it is. Because no department could approve any training that isn't fully by the book.

                            I doubt most police and fire departments are properly trained in dealing with a lot of these incidents. Never mind the public. And as I stated earlier, the public should clear out immediately if involved in an active shooter incident. Unless they're hostages of course. Or hiding. But they'd be in no position to help anyway. For bombings they should also clear out due to likelohood of secondary devices. Not to mention potential CBRN incidents which they should also stay away from.

                            I also have to say that I doubt there would be any real help from the public regardless of any training we provide. The exception being those with experience in the field such as first responders, medical professionals and members of the military. The level of carnage at these type incidents can be very high.

                            If an MCI incident is something that overwhelms first responders, is the answer to throw the public into the mix? There is no way whatsoever to incorporate them into a command structure or a communications plan. Their basic training will not go very far in helping at these incidents. They could really turn out to be more hindrance than help. How will the PD feel about it? A multi-agency plan will be needed. How do they clear the area? How do they provide force protection?

                            These incidents require a high level of discipline and command/control. Commanders on the scene will have some very difficult decisions to make. There may very well be people we cannot save. This does depend on the specific incident of course. Sometimes we won't even know for a while what the incident really is. But at some of these incidents there will be victims who are black tagged without efforts at reviving them.

                            I'm all for expanding our horizons beyond firefighting. We've all done so already. I'm just not in agreement that this is the best use of time and resources.

                            I'm not rolling the dice. It CAN happen here. It HAS happened here. And it WILL happen here again I have no doubt.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by captnjak View Post
                              You speak of "non-traditional services that our public wants and values". Do they really? Are the citizens clamoring to be taught how to react to an active shooter incident? It was an active shooter scanario that started this thread after all. But moving on to other MCI's is valid. And yes, they can and do happen everywhere. But are the citizens asking to be taught how to help?...
                              Might just be me.....but....

                              if I'm looking for suggestions on how to deal with a shooter...I'm asking Police.
                              if I'm looking for suggestions on how to do first aid....I'm asking EMS agency.
                              if I'm looking for suggestions on how to deal with a fire....then I'm asking a Fire Department.

                              We did have a lady call the firehouse and ask us how to stop a leaking pipe...told her to call a plumber. Guess that was wrong.
                              "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

                              Comment

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