Archive for 'April 2011'

    Statistics....

    April 2, 2011 6:57 PM by Doug Mitchell, Jr.
    My colleagues and I at Traditions Training, LLC are very happy to be a part of this "blogger network" with Fire Engineering. I am hoping that this new blog will come out ok, as I am still adjusting to the format on the new FE site.

    Ok, here we go... Elder Statesman Henry Clay once said "statistics are no substitute for judgement" and I wholeheartedly agree. In fact I really hate statistics (math was my worst subject in school).

    Regardless of where you work or volunteer, it seems that no department has been able to shake the cutbacks and lack of support that we are facing today. Numbers, numbers, numbers...we have seen the numbers come to bite us, many times its "stats" thrown in our faces. City & Town Managers say "Do more with less, and when you are done with that...next year do more with even less." Stats have been used to close fire companies, reduce staffing etc, etc, etc.

    The bottom line with statistics, as Henry Clay said, is that good judgement should always outweigh what the numbers might lead you to believe. There is no more relevant field for this than in the public safety profession... seconds can be the difference life or death. Let's not beat around the bush, we know that "numbers" , be it measured in seconds of time or reductions in staffing can in-fact, take civilian and firefighters lives.

    For a change, let's use the numbers in this outline to help ourselves! I saw the statistics in the photo (above) come across my desk a few months ago. They encompass nearly 20 years worth of compiled data from the FDNY Safety Command. It provides data to key mayday stats from actual incidents. If you look closely, the numbers tell a story. For once, let's use some stats to help us prepare to be able to save our own.

    These numbers are statistical averages, an inventory of the greatest frequency of events encountered from Mayday incidents. Now, I know that we need to prepare for all types of RIT/FAST scenarios (even for those not listed or those that may happen infrequently, such as FF removal from below grade & above grade etc.). When I look at this document, I see a template to be sure that we have "nailed down the essentials" and have those RIT/FAST skills mastered, based on the frequency of them occurring at a Mayday event.

    The "take home" points that I see in the document:
    ~ Most Maydays called near the 20 minute marker:
    ~Think of what happens at the 20 minute mark? Usually it's one of two things right? Either the searches are done and fire is largely extinguished and we are mopping up **or** we are fighting an advancing fire, possibly changing operational modes and adding additional alarms. Incident Commanders should have 10-minute timers (either keyed to them from dispatch or kept on a clock @ the command post) this should keep them aware of the passing of time. Inside crews must be certain to check their air supply and NOT rely on the low air alarm to keep them out of trouble (remember it may take you more time to get out than it took you to get in!)

    ~1st Alarm Units removed most downed FF's:
    ~While we absolutely need a well trained and effective RIT/FAST Team at the ready - While operating, be aware of the other companies at the fire with you and those working around you (i.e. on the floor above and below!). While it is imperative that you keep doing your job (i.e. operating the hoseline) if a mayday is called, you just may be the closest unit to the downed member! Always, Always Be Aware!
    ~Downed FF Positioning/Removal:
    ~Downed FF's will be most likely found "out of air" (practice with your RIT/FAST pack connecting the UAC *with gloved hands!) and laying prone on the ground. There is also 50/50 shot of them having their SCBA facepieces off (practice putting a facepiece from your RIT/FAST pack on a downed FF in the dark with your gloves on!). FF's will be most likely need to be dragged horizontally and have you can almost guarantee that thier gear will be torn in the process (practice converting the SCBA straps into to a harness, and if you have a personal harness on your pants... take the hook out and pass it thru the SCBA shoulder straps to "marry" the top half of the FF to the bottom half..it will help keep all the parts together and will help in moving the downed member) ** Stay tuned for a future blog post showing that evolution.

    Use the stats in the document to your advantage. Let the numbers work for us for a change. Let us be prepared in all situations, but armed with these "numbers," we can now form the remedies for the situations that we may face most frequently. Keep yourself and your troops "Combat Ready".

Doug is Lieutenant in the Fire Department of New York.  He previously served with Fairfax County Va. Fire & Rescue.  He instructs fire programs with “Traditions Training, LLC.”

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