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The Cops Won't Invite Us to the Party! What do we do?

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  • The Cops Won't Invite Us to the Party! What do we do?

    A Posting from Ron Moore, Forum Moderator

    Received a request for assistance from a Training Officer in the state of Wisconsin. Anyone have any other suggestions, feel free to get in on this.

    He writes, "Our dept. serves eight townships.We are also responsible for extrication for motor vehicle accidents. The ambulance service here is a private service. We are dispatched through the Sheriff's Dept dispatch center.

    The problem we have here is being dispatched automatically for injury accidents in our district. Currently the sheriff's dept. does not page our dept. until it is confirmed someone is pinned. They either get the information from the caller or wait until someone is on scene. Usually a squad car. Our Chief has sent three memos/letters to the dispatch center asking them to automatically dispatch us.

    The question I have is there an NFPA Standard or case law that we can present to the Sheriff's Dept showing them that our dept. should be sent automatically. Any information would be appreciated."

    My reply:<br />No, there is nothing in case law that I know of. It is local protocols that apply. Unfortunately, when cops answer the phone, FD doesn't get much of a chance.

    You'll have to demonstrate to the Sheriff of the County that the response of your units would be an asset at the scene. Right now, you guys are seen as more of a nuisance than a help. Private vehicles jamming up the scene, big fire trucks blocking traffic, lots of spectators in nomex turnout gear walking all over the 'crime scene' is not what a cop looks forward to having at his scene.

    Here's some things to consider.<br />Rule #1: No POVs from our members allowed at crash scene.

    Rule #2: FD trains and gets ready to provide First Responder personnel and equipment to scene. Consider serving your townships with an EMS response from your department, at least to the BLS level. There are many more cases of injury accidents than there are accidents with people trapped. EMS response to at least the BLS level is now a generally accepted service that FD can provide now that the NFPA included it as a requirement in NFPA #1670, Standard on Operations and Training for Technical Rescue, 1999 edition.

    The Standard specifically includes the following regarding EMS and patient care;

    Provide Medical care for victims at a minimum of BLS level. (2-1.5)

    Provide minimum basic life support (BLS) standing by at an incident or training exercise that pose a high potential risk for injury.(2-5.1.4)

    Awareness of potential impact of operations on the safety and welfare of other rescuers, victims, and other activities at the incident site. (2-5.3.4)

    Procedures for the protection of a victim during extrication/disentanglement. (6-3.3d)

    Procedures for the packaging of a victim prior to extrication and/or disentanglement (6-3.3e)

    Rule #3: Tell the County Sheriff, we'll help manage the great personal risk to the safety of your officers on the scene. To prepare for this pitch, review the last year or so of LODDs caused by personnel working in or near moving traffic. Go to <www.responder.com> for your research. Remember, on average, four or five cops are killed each year while in moving traffic for every firefighter or EMS crewmwmber that dies. They're the ones that can really benefit from your presence if you do it right.

    Rule #4: Get help from a close friend. Approach the ambulance service to get them to realize that once you have fire department EMS response capabilities, you can be an asset to them at any EMS call in the townships you cover. I'd get your department to run EMS calls for medical emergencies as well, working side by side with them. You just do first responder, no transport. You do not take anything away from the money that the ambulnce service can bill for. This will break the ice with the ambulance crews and set the stage for you to be called to crash scenes as well. If the ambulance service and its owner are on your side, realizing that you can be a big help to their typically understaffed ambulance crew, you have a valuable friend pushing for you to be called to the crash scene as well.

    Rule #5: As a fire department, we are professionals. Finally, once you have prepared, have enough EMS trained people available 24/7, can truly control your personnel at a crash scene, and have begun working with your local ambulance service on house calls, ask for a trial run for a few months or half a year at crash scenes. You handle spilled fluids, check for any fire hazards, assist the EMS personnel with patient packaging, etc. Go slowly and see if you can prove that your presence can make things better rather than worse.

    You just have to be patient and go call by call to prove to the hard-nosed cops that you're a good thing, not a pain in the butt. Until you do, they are in charge and you're not even invited to the party!

    Ron Moore, Fire Training Manager<br />Plano (TX) Fire Rescue<br />214-728-6776
    Ron Moore, Forum Moderator

  • #2
    I think I would take a trip down liability lane with this one also. The dispatcher should be asking who ever reports the MVA if there are injuries or trapped people. If this isnt getting asked then the dispatch center needs work and is subject to liability for not doing their job. If the call comes in as unknown injury or injury or trapped, then fire should be sent automatically. No further confirmation is needed unless it is an "unknown" and Law arrives to say that there is none. They can cancel fire. But for them to wait for law to arrive before requesting fire sure puts the burden on them. IF the law officer isnt trained in the area of trauma recognition then it is easy to overlook a person that could crater. It is better for everyone involved to be safe instead of sorry and error on the side of caution. So just ask them how much insurance they have to cover negligent acts


    • #3
      We have experienced the same problem. However, we caused the problem to begin with. Failure to control our level of response was the problem. Many members ignored requests to respond to the fire station, not the scene. Traffic was clogged up, the cops had more to do as a result of our response.

      Try a 1 engine response to start with. Follow Ron's suggestions and get the cops to agree to a 1 engine response. When you get thereyou can request further units if the incident warrants it. Remember: we are there to help.... that includes helping the cops.
      Dan Martelle


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