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Fire Scene Communications

Mon, 16 Jan 2012|

This program from the Firefighters Support Foundation defines communications and its elements, discusses best practices, and presents tactics that ensure that information is being effectively disseminated.



[BLANK_AUDIO] In this segment we're going to talk about fire [UNKNOWN] communication. Now, fire scene communication is probably one of the most critical skills you need to acquire, because as we talk and try to relay information back and forth on the scene it's, it's critical that people not only hear what you're saying but they also understand it. So we wanna talk about some few, a few issues in relation to it. The first thing we wanna accomplish, our first objective is gonna be define communication. Before we begin talking about it, we have to come up with a common definition. One that we all understand and can work from. We also wanna explain the key elements of communication. And so we wanna talk about what are the part and what are the pieces of it. And then we discuss some best practices. And then finally, we're gonna talk about how to effectively ensure that information is disseminated. These are very critical skills on the scene because time and time again, there are always issues that. Come up as a result of not being able to effectively communicate with each other. So this is where we want to start off. Now the question comes up: Why is this important? Why is this critical that we understand what goes on, understand why the communication is so critical? Many after-action reports often say, "the communication was a break down." That there were issues there getting information back and forth, either to crews. Either to an incident commander or to other parts of the operation. So it's very important that we understand not only why communication is important but also understand how to do, deliver it effectively. Before we begin we, we definitely want to talk about what is communication. What exactly does that mean when we talk about that? And there's several points I wanna bring home with this and make sure we understand. First is it is an exchange of information. And so communication is is definitely and exchange of words, visuals, whatever the case might be. But you have to make sure that you have this critical point. It has to be a two-way communication. That means you have a sender, a receiver, and there's confirmation that the information is being properly disseminated. So we also, we want to make sure we understand this. It's at least two people involved and that again you have that constant confirmation back and forth, the going back and forth of. What is correct and what is being correctly said. Now the easy way to remember this is to take a look at this chart. We first make sure we have a sender. We also have a receiver. The information has to be transmitted to the receiver, and the person begins to understand that. And, how, how we confirm this is when they se, they, they can receive back to us or send back to us. That information. So, this is a very critical point because on the fireground particularly, you have a number of things going on, as I said previously, a number of moving parts. So, [COUGH] making sure that what you're saying is being heard is very important. One example of communication that's ver, that we, we'll work with is first, let's, place, replace these terms with specific items. So, for example we have a sender and this, in our example we'll use the dispatcher. The dispatcher transmits out the call. In this case it may be a structure fire. They give the address. And any other information they may have available. The receiver will be the fire department, and the, Engine 1, for example, may re, be the one that's going out first. And so they get, take, receive the message, and then they confirm back to dispatch the, the call itself. So this is a, a good example of wha, the communication taking place in a complete cycle. Another example would be, say for example, if you're a public information officer. And you've got information to release to the, general public or to the media. In this situation the public information officer would be the sender. They're gonna transmit the information to the media, or to the general public. And then we're gonna look to see that they received that information back, either through how they respond to the message, by how they questions they may ask, and i, in that situation, we see the reverse. Now we have the me, when they're asking the question, the medium may become the sender. So the information is going back and forth between the two. And each time what we're trying to do is confirm that what we, what we're saying is exactly what was received. Because in many cases, and you see this particularly when people say they've been interviewed by a reporter or by someone, that the information wasn't sent out correctly. And, and in those situations what you may find. Is that while the sender knew what they were talking about. The receiver didn't quite understand what they we're trying to say, or they may have perceived it different. I think of the game my kids like to play, and it's telling a secret. And they sit in a circle and. One person will whisper into the other person's ear and then that person whispers into another ear, the secret into another ear, and it goes all the way around the circle to the first person, And all, in som any cases what you find is by the time you get back to that first person the message has completely changed or is something completely different. And that's what we run into in similar ways on the fire ground. What we think the person's hearing, or we think that they are saying may be totally mis, misunderstood. And so these are things we want to make sure we address. Likewise, some of the mistakes that happen on the fire ground, with communication, may be situations where, let's say, the incident commander. Tells the crew inside the building to go to the other side and do a search and rescue. And the crew in the building, because of noise, because of other things going on, they may not have heard it properly. And they go to the other side of the building and do a fire attack. Or even, maybe even exit the building. Here's the, and this is a situation where the message was transmitted properly. The receiver may or may not rec, have received it properly. And, they did something completely different. And that's why this confirmation of being received is very important, because if you repeat back what you heard, then you know right away whether it was the, the intended message or not. Now, let's talk a little more detail about what these key elements that we have to look for. And that we wanna make sure are in a message. because there again, understanding that, it sounds critical, and it sounds like, I know it sounds like I'm coming back to this so often and pounding this particular part of it, but it is very important, particularly when you're on the fire scene, or any incident for that matter, that you have an effective communication going on. Again, if it doesn't happen. Or information gets missent, or if things are not received properly, then you can potentially run into, again somebody getting hurt, someone getting killed make, creating more damage in the structure or the building. Any, things like that happen, and often times when you hear about stuff like that happening. Almost consistently there's always an issue with communication. And so you always want to make sure that this is if in many cases that this is always done properly. So let's talk about the sender first. This is the person that's got to relay information. Now this can be the instinct commander trying to relay orders to the teams on the scene, or relay orders to the operations officer. It could be the dispatcher trying to get information. To the instant commander. Or to the crews responding to the scene. All, all of these are people that are trying to relay a message to you. It could also be the, public information officer trying to relay information to the general public. Or to the, media. These are all people who are attempting or trying to send a message. Now, we, then we've got from there is transmitted. How can that take place? First it can happen on the radio. Radio's the most common one that we use, if we're dealing with a fire scene situation. It could relay word of mouth. So for example, you may have somebody, who's standing by the incident commander and he or she says, go tell this person. The following orders. The, the way it's transmitted can happen in a number, a number of ways. And there are variety of them. It may be a letter, in a non emergency [INAUDIBLE] situation. It may be an email. You think of the ways when a disaster is getting ready to move into an area, how we notify the general public that it's time to take shelter. And, in, in some areas, what you, what you have are the tornado sirens that go off. You may have, where the emergency broadcasting takes over the cable channels and starts posting the message and doing the announcements. Maybe through your radio, you hear that their sit, you know, you hear about the, the updates and so forth. So how the message is transmitted is oftentimes just as important as the message. Because it's gonna determine whether they understand what you're saying, and whether they comprehend what you're saying. And so an exam, another example would be a situation where you may have. To the general public, you're trying to tell them to take a [iii] shelter or you're trying to talk with the media. And you want to make sure they understand through this face-to face discussion that what-what you're trying to relate to them. So that's oftentimes where you're take questions that's You may try to solicit feedback to them to make sure they understand what you're saying. And you also wanna make sure that what you're selling, that what you're telling them they can then relay to somebody else. Again, referencing back to the game that the, the little kids of telling, telling a secret it's situation where you're telling the media, they're relaying it to the general public. And who may relay it to somebody else who's interested in what's going on. So, you've got [INAUDIBLE], potentially three, four levels of that information's being relayed and if it's not done properly, it becomes mixed up, it becomes confusing. And oftentimes, your message may even be dropped. So the, how it's transmitted. Is very important. Another part is you need to have a receiver. The receiver has to be, one, they have to be open to the information. Now, in our, our field that's just a little more, that's a little easier to do because there's a crisis going on. There's an emergency. Of sorts. So their reception to the information will be a lot better. Un, than in a typical non emergency situation and in a non emergency situation, I would say is I'll give an example of a guy who comes into the station says, says you know, they got a newborn. Just trying to sleep at night, and the sirens going out late at night wake up the baby. And he wants to talk to somebody about it. And now, you can typically transmit to them the information that, you know, this is a state law. It's a requirement. This is, something of that nature, that you have to go with lights and siren to the call. You can't just do one or the other or neither. so, you're transmitting that information to him, but, my guess is, this guy does not want to hear that. He does not want to hear that you can't, that you have, that you can't turn off the lights and siren. So how he's going to perceive it. And this is very important because, perception is very, very important in how people receive information. With perception, that tells that you can say the words, but they're gonna, they're gonna, they may translate it a little bit differently. And so you, you, depending on, h, what, what, what's going on with them at the time. And so, when you, you ask, you solicit to find out if they understood what they said, you may find that the response is not what you were in, what you were intending. So perception plays a big role in how the person will receive the information. Now one of the things as well along with this, is you want to make sure that they understand what you said. All radio communication is very simple. When the dispatcher tells us something, we simply repeat it back to, to them. And they know that what we received was correct. On the fire scene it's very important that when you, you give order or you give a command that the receiver in turn repeats that back to you. So that you, you're sure they understand what you're talking about. And, and again this is where a breakdown typically occurs. When the receiver doesn't tell them. Or repeat back what was said. There's a, there's a possibility they may not have understood. And so you kinda leave that, that, that loop here kinda open. And you don't know until they actually begin doing the task if they properly understand what's being told to them. And in these situations. Not understanding what they're being told could put them in danger, could put somebody else in danger or possibly could, create damage to the home or to the re, structure. So we wanna make sure that what's being, what's, what's being received is, is exactly what we intended. And this is where we get this con, that's why we look for this confirmation. Now, in a non-emergency situation, we don't necessarily have that luxury. The loop is a little bit harder to keep closed. So what happens, the way we have to ensure that there's understanding is to solicit questions. So, for example, if I'm teaching a class somewhere and I've just shared some information. Maybe I'm teaching a class on how to put on an air pack. And so what I'm gonna do is when I'm done is I'm gonna solicit questions to them. And then typically, the best way to do this is through open ended questions. And what I mean by open ended questions, the easiest way to explain is just like, what is a closed end? A closed end questions is something they either, the responder, the receiver has to answer with a yes or no, true or false. In an open-ended question they have to give you some type of more detailed response, and in the non-emergency situations you wanna make sure that you do that, that you ask open-ended questions to ensure that they understand what you're talking about. And by doing that you can begin to get a better understanding or help. Correct if any information that wasn't properly understood. So two ways that we talked about that we can ensure that loop stays closed, first is by repeating information, having, having, sending the message, having the receiver repeat it back to you. The second way is sending the message. And then, asking open ended questions to ensure the receiver understood. And again, you can use, these can be used interchangeably, but you also have to weigh it out based on the situation. There are certain situations that are very critical, time sensitive, that we've gotta make sure happens. In which case, we're gonna drop to the just repeat it back to me. In situations where we may have a little more time or we're dealing with much more detailed information we may go with open ended questions. The key you don't wanna, don't wanna do when sending a message is you don't want to just leave, leave closed in questions like did you understand or do you understand. Because all your gonna get there is a yes or no answer. And getting just that yes or no doesn't really clarify for you if they completely understand what you're talking about. Let's briefly talk about here some of the concerns when this loop doesn't occur, what can happen on the fireground. Now theres several instances where this can happen. The first one is the receiver did, didn't receive the information or did receive it properly and what, what you determine this is that you get no response and this is one of the issues that makes it very critical to under. For them, the receiving person to respond back because several things can occur if you don't, if they don't respond back. One, they may not have heard your message. And if you think about what goes on on the fire ground and how the radio communications take place it's, it's a very good chance that your information may not have been heard. And so, by getting that confirmation back, then you know they, they would not only have heard the information, but they understood it. Getting nothing back, they very well may not have heard your message. [COUGH] The other situation is that if they don't respond back, you don't know if they heard it correctly or understood what you were wanting to occur, as the incident commander. So while you may have told them to go to one room, one floor. If they don, don't respond back, they're very likely to go to another floor, not understanding what you're talking about. Another concern that occurs when the receiver doesn't re, reply back, they receive the information, is they could be in danger. This is one of the best ways to tell if the firefighters are in danger or if there is a situation that may require Mayday. But when you don't get that response back, and if it's a consistently a policy that any time you receive a message that you have to respond back to it. And you don't get that, then you know something could possibly be wrong and you wanna follow up and find out like where the crew is and what's going on. So keeping this [iii] loop closed, and always keeping the information flowing to the receiver back to the center. It not only makes sure that information is understood but it also gives you a way of tracking crews and making sure that they're safe within the building. And that nothing, nothing is, is going on or an emergency that needs to be addressed. The second issue is when you get a close-ended response. Remember, one of the things I talked about is you don't wanna ask people what, a question that will require a yes or no answer. And because when you do that, there again, you may be sending one thing. The only response you're getting back though is a yes or no. Did you understand? Yes or no. Now, if you think about it," Do you understand?" is a pretty vague question. And so, saying do I understand this, yeah, I, in my mind, I may receive it, may have understood it because of the way I perceived your question or your order, but you may have intended something completely different. And in which case, you, what, what happens is there's opportunity there for mix-ups, there's opportunity there for things to go wrong, and eventually, possibly even situations where somebody could get hurt if they didn't properly understand what you're asking them to do. So we, again, another example why we need to keep this loop closed, and always make sure there's a good, good relay of information. The, the third one is a rushed response. Somebody just rapidly hears what you're, you're trying to tell them to do, and then they take off and go, and this is actually very common on the fire ground. You may have someone who keys up the radio, they got the order, thinks. And off they go cuz they're in a hurry. They're trying to get the fire knocked down. They're trying to get things back in order. They're trying to get thing, you know, get restabilization to the scene. And so, they just kinda rush response, say, yeah, we got it. Well, and, that sounds great. You know they've, you know they've received it. Did they understand it? You, you have no idea. Without actually following that up with can you tell me what I said. Can you repeat back to me? Confirm what, can you confirm my message. All of these are ways that you want to make sure, and particularly on the fire ground. This is where it's very critical is that once they receive that information did they understand it? Did they comprehend what you're telling them? And you may find in some situations that, just simply repeating it again, you may have to try to think of a different way to word it, a different way to phrase things, so that they understand what you're trying to get them to do. So all of these are concerns that do occur, have occurred on the fireground, that do occur still. And in mo, most cases what you will find is it, it's a result of a breakdown in communication. And often ti, you, you hear about accidents that occur on the fire scene. Somebody got injured. Somebody got hurt. Something like that. In, in a number of cases, many of them, what you will find is at some point in the process, some point in the response. The communication broke down. Now that could be a breakdown where they didn't understand what was said it could be a breakdown where there was no communication so the crew, the firefighter, whatever the case may be may have gone into a freelancing mode because they're not getting any information. Or there are situations where it was, it was completely misunderstood. And completely that they end up going completely off of what the plan was intended. So, we wanna make sure we keep clear communications on the fire ground. We wanna make sure there's always that open line communication, and that this loop here remains closed all the time. That we're constantly sent ou, for whatever we send out. There's always a confirmation of what they received, and that they understood. Now, with a basic understanding here of what is a transmission, what is a message, and how does it work. The messaging process work. We now want to talk about some guidelines, some practices for when you're actually talking on the radio. When you're trying to communicate on the fire ground and so forth. So let's begin first. What is the first thing I want to do before I send a message? One, I want to make sure there's a clear airway to talk on. So the, and this is a mistake that a lot of folks make. They get so excited, they get on the scene. They, they want, they've got a message to relay back. and they'll key up the mike and start talking. Now, one of the problems with that, particularly, and this does ha-, this is a very common problem, is that when, that, other people are on the scene, they're also trying to communicate, there's traffic coming from this batch to the instant commander, information is flowing around and what you'll find will happen is when you key up. The mike to talk, you walk all over everybody else that's already on the radio. The same situation could occur that somebody could do that to you. So, the very first thing we want to do before we try to relay information over the radio is we want to make sure that we have a clear channel. Now if you've got a lot of information or you're gonna have some ongoing information, a good tip to do is to make sure that contact dispatch or contact instant commander and ask if you can get a separate channel. If that's available. This is one way to kinda take. Do I remove some of the noise and background that's going on from all the other folks trying to communicate. Another good thing to do is that if, if you've got a fairly large operation going, is try to streamline some of the communication by putting them on separate channels. And this way, you don't have to worry about everyone walking all over each other or people missing information because of so much traffic going on on the radio. One of the big where you'll this occur, important situation where you'll see this occur is during a Mayday operation. And, in a Mayday operation you wanna make sure that the crew trying to do the rescue has a very clear line of communication. To the instant commander and to each other. You don't want them having to try to deal with all of the noise and background stuff going on, on, wi, with a fire scene. So you try, you try.g, try to move them over to a separate channel. And so that's, that's one tip. The other thing is, don't just blurt it out what you're gonna say. Take a second. Take a few seconds or a few minutes. And collect your thoughts. What are you trying to broadcast to the other people? Be it to the dispatcher, to it be the crew in the building. Be it to whoever on the scene. Take a minute, and try to collect your thoughts. And what do you wanna say? Along that line, with that is keep your transmission to brief concise statements. Now if you think about how much you remember when a person's talking, if you think about it, think back to the last person you heard besides me, that you were listening to. If you think about how you remember what they said, it's typically in fragments, and that's how most people remember things: in fragments. Now, the issue though is when we're transmitting information, on the fire scene, we've got to make sure that they remember and they understand what is being told. We talked about that. So, when you're transmitting your message, make sure it's a brief. Clear, concise statement that can be understood. I'll say this, one, one situation where you see this is commonly broken is when people are doing the initial scene size up and when you do an initial scene size up, you have to call back, engine one's on scene, we have a single story residential structural, nothing's showing, engine one'll be command. That, the issue with that, what I typically see is when people are giving that description, you'll see situations like engine 1OC, we have a single story residential structure. We have nothing showing. It has four walls, it's purple, black roof, stone masonry, long driveway. You get the idea. It becomes a very, very long message. And what you will see happen is after about the first phrase or two anybody listening to that broadcast basically just kinda tunes out, be it mentally or whatever. Here's the, here's the thing to kinda keep in the back of your mind. The average person takes a mind journey about every eight seconds. So if you've been listening to this, this segment for about a minute, more than likely every eight seconds you've been taking a, a mind journey somewhere else. You're thinking about getting your car washed, you're thinking about you gotta go pay the bills maybe stop and get groceries whatever the case may be during this time. And so every eight seconds, so. When you're doing your broadcasting, or you're communicating something over the radio. You've got approximately eight seconds to get everything out before their mind goes somewhere else. And so you wanna keep it clear. Keep it cos, concise, and keep it simple. Keep it very simple. Don't get too. Tied up in the different, components of it. The next thing you wanna do is you wanna wait for confirmation from the other party. So, so the way this is gonna take place is, if I were the incident commander and I'm trying to send information to the team in the building. I'm gonna send a short message, I'm gonna wait for them to confirm, then I send another part of the message, wait for them to confirm. And, when I say confirm, I'm listening to hear that they repeat back to me, what I said. And so, if you get into long, detailed discussions, the likelihood of them remembering all of it's gonna be very slim. So, what I may say is, "I need you to go instant command to interior team. I need you to go to the C-side of the building." And I may throw in something in there as well to let them know there is more information coming, so I may say, "break.". So engine one, I mean interior team go to the C side of the building, break. Then i'm gonna wait for them to respond back and say, interior team, to instant command, confirm, go to the C side of the building, I would break. I need you to do, Search in the room on the seaside of the building and confirm they're no more victims. They'll respond back, go to the search and rescue in the room in the seaside of the building and confirm they're no victims. Now by doing that, what I've done is I've now been able to send them multiple. Pieces of information. I've still kept it in fragments, so that it is easier for them to retain. And then I've, in each, in each situation, in each part of it, I've waited for them to confirm back. And that they understand what I'm asking them to do. And if you take this step, i, it sound, it may sound very elementary. And you're thinking we're all adults. We don't need to talk to each other like that. Consider the circumstances that you're talking to people under. This is not to, to folks sitting around at the bar or at the kitchen table or at the coffee shop, having conversation. This is a high tense, very very rough situation that you're dealing with. This is a situation where there's multiple things going on, everything's in rapid mode, and the ability for them to comprehend information's gonna be harder. Couple that with the fact that they're wearing gear, they're in an air pack. And the communication is a little bit harder. They've got a flash hood to cover their ears. Things like that. And so even though to you it sounds like you're talking normally and it may sound clear if you just listen to it on the microphone. When you add those other disturbances for, such as bells going off, having an air mask on. Those type things, then it becomes a lot harder to understand and it becomes much more complex for them to try to figure out what you're saying and so you want to get that confirmation back. Now, what happens if I don't, if, if what they send back is incorrect? Then you're gonna wanna immediately notify them. That that's the case. So you may come back and say that's incorrect. Plea, and then, then you come back and tell them what the correct information is. So if they say, they confirm, go to the B side of the building, I'm gonna come back. That's incorrect. Please go to the C, Cat. Side of the bill. Maybe what they, you know, it could be any reasons, any number of reasons why they didn't understand. It was too noisy, they couldn't hear well, maybe they thought instead of c, they heard the letter b. And so there are a number of reasons of why things can break down, but you certainly want to make sure. And that's something I would also recommend with this. Is it, if you're using letters, C-side of the building, B-side of the building. D-side. If you listen how those sound, the sounds are very close. So if you're using letters, try to associate a word with it, it'll help make, make, make em a little bit clearer. So for example if I say B-side of the building, I'm gonna say B boy. C, cat, D, dog. Those are things that help them understand better what letter I'm using. Because in many cases, again, considering as well, how muffled everything sounds, from wearing the ear pack and wearing things like that. You, you're gonna find that they're gonna be, misunderstand what you're saying in many cases, or in some cases. So we always wanna get that confirmation back of what they heard, and if it's incorrect, we wanna go ahead and immediately notify them that it's incorrect and provide them the correct information. One of the questions that typically comes up is how do I begin practicing and how do I improve my speaking skills on the radio and on the fire scene. And this is actually a really good question. And unfortunately not many really take advantage of this, but there are a number of opportunities where you can improve how you present and how you speak on the fire ground. And I, I say this is important because if you think about it, if you're an instructor teaching a class. If you're leading a meeting, you're gonna wanna make sure that you have some basic level presentation skills. The same thing applies on the fire scene when talking on the radio and when trying to relay commands, that you want that same level of proficiency to be able to do your job effectively. And what I've. Compared to any other tool you would use on the fire ground. Communication is a tool, just like your air pack, just like a halligan bar, just like your hose line. All of those are things that you would not send someone into a building that didn't know how to use them, and, in the same context, when speaking, it's a tool that we use to communicate information back and forth. We wouldn't want to. Send out wrong information, or intentionally give people bad information, but in a sense, when we're not practicing this particular skill, and we're not keeping this skill up. Then we could just as likely do that and send them into a bad situation. So we want to make sure that these skills are. Definitely kept up to speed that we're doing these well and doing these properly. The first way you can do this, and I would suggest is that, begin listening to the, radio when other departments are going out. Wait on other calls that you're not going to within your department. Listen to how they communicate. What goes well? What doesn't go so well? And weigh those out in relation to the communication and, that's going on. And see if there are things they're doing that work really well that you could integrate into the way you speak on the radio. Maybe there's some things they didn't do so well. And those situations you may want to learn from that to not use those skills, that particular skill. So listening to the radio and listening to the calls that are going on. Is a great way to learn how to improve how you communicate. The, another way is many departments, many of the dispatch centers now record what's going on at least on the primary channel. So, something you can do as a training session, as an after action type thing is get a copy of that recording. Use it in your department with crews that respond on ways they can improve how they're communicating. Again, we said communication is typically the weakest link on a scene and often is the one that leads to a breakdown or problem. So, we want to take advantage of that, if we can listen to the recordings that went on. If we can listen to the communications that are going back and forth. Then we can begin to learn on how we can improve. A step from there, once you've done that, run some practice scenarios. They're in the station and just practice talking to each other. One way you can do this is get two hand held radios, or use one in the truck, and go to two separate parts of the station where you can't hear each other talking. And begin relaying information back and forth. This is a great way to practice and a great way to learn how people to communicate and how they, how to make sure information is being shared properly, because the only way your gonna be able to make sure the information gets relayed by doing this, doing this type of type of practice section is through what your communicating on the radio. Another way you can do this as well is, record yourself. Maybe come up with a set of scenarios for yourself to work with and record them and listen back to how it sounds. If you do that one thing I'd recommend is not necessarily to listen to it immediately, because it's still fresh in your mind what you're trying to communicate. So, ee, of course it's going to make sense to, record yourself, leave it for a little bit, come back, and listen to see if it still makes sense, and if it doesn't, then you know you've got to improve some of those speaking skills. And then finally, the biggest one of all is practice, practice practice. Again, going back to, this is a tool. This is something we use just like any other tool we use on the scene. So you wouldn't want to put an air pack on one time, and say, okay, I'm done, I'm trained, I can do it from here on out forever. Same thing with tying knots. I tied it one time, I must have that skill down, so I can do that all the time now. We all know that it with any of those that it takes practice and knowledge just one time but ongoing practice to keep the skills up. The same things happens with communication. Any time we don't keep those skills up, we don't continue to improve the way we speak, and, and improve the way we communicate on the fire ground, we could, we tend to lose them. And just like tying knots, if you don't practice knots for a year, you're not gonna, you find that your skill level drops considerably. And so, the more we practice, the more we keep doing this over and over again and the more we keep working on those communication skills, we'll see things improve. And definitely, this is a great way to insure that what we're communicating around and what we're talking back. Talking about on the scene is understood and can be responded to. What we wanna talk about now is effectively ensuring that information is disseminated. Now, we're go, we're gonna step out a little bit broader rather than just in the fire scene because this is applicable to many areas of the fire service. But I, I will stay focused in that particular area. The first point I wanna bring up when I talk about how to effectly disseminate information is stick to the basics. Now, and this is sometimes that this is a mistake a lot of people make cuz they try to get so detailed. They try to draw in so much information into their statement, into their broadcast, whatever the case may be. The, it gets lost, the actual message, the intent gets lost. So, this is why I say, let's step back. Let's look at the basics and we answer the questions, of the who, what, how, when and why. Those are the things if we focus on when we are doing our communication. And what we're sending out, we'll find that, you'll find that things have become a lot simpler, that they become more understandable to the other party and it's a lot easier to break down into sentence fragments what we're talking. Maybe let's take a look at this from a standpoint of an example. If were get, if I have a team inside the building, a crew in there doing fire ground operate doing operations, and I need to relay a message to them, I want them to move to the other side of the building and begin operations there. All right, the first thing I wanna do, and, and, actually, a neat little way to do this is to maybe just create a little. You can print it out off your computer to keep in your vehicle, keep on the truck where the [INAUDIBLE], basically like a cheat sheet so you know what to send out. The, the first thing is who. Who do I want to send this message to? In this case, based on our example, we're wanting to send it to the team, the team inside the building. Alright. The second question: what do I want them to do? I want them to move to this other side of the building. In which case, we may just say it's the c-side of the building, to stay consistent. So we've got the who answer, the what answer, how. In this case we may need to tell them how. We may need to tell them how to exit the building, go around to the c-side, enter the, enter from the exterior. And so we've got, that information may be relevant, it may be necessary. So we want to make sure that question's answered. when? Based on our example earlier, we saw, our comments earlier, when is one of the questions. And in this case we may say immediately. There may be circumstances where you don't need them to move to the other side of the building until later, but we need to know that when, and when it's going to take, and how we want, when it's going to take place. And then finally why. Do we want the, there has to be a reason we, that I want them to move over there. Maybe you have to do search and rescue. So, our why question is so they can begin search and rescue on the room adjacent to the sea side of the building. So, by answering the basic five questions, we have our message that we, we need to relay. And it's very simple, very easy for them to understand and it becomes a situation where we don't have to worry about trying to explain ourselves. So we say interior team I need you to move to the C side of the building by exiting the front. And going, and entering through the exterior immediately, so you can begin search and rescue in the room on the sea side of the building. To understand this even further, let's take a situation where it may happen incorrectly. And so, for example, we didn't, didn't address one of those questions. And so, let's say. We don't address the how. So for example, we have the who is interior team. We need you to go to the C side of the building immediately to do search and rescue. We didn't tell them how. Now, that, in some cases, that may work fine. There may not be an issue, they may be able to go whichever, whatever means, are necessary. But let's say there's a collapse or, on their path to the sea side of the building from the interior. Now if we, we may know that. It may have been broadcast over the radio, but the interior team may not have heard that. Again we have, we have a lot of chatter going on, and they're wearing a lot of gear. So, the likelihood of them hearing that may, may not be as well as we think. So, by us not relaying that piece of the information. We could potentially put them in harm's way or put them in a situation where they get in trouble because of a little snippet we left out. And so we wanna make sure that we keep all our bases covered. And again, taking a clipboard and maybe a paper and just make sure you've got all the information you've got to relate to them. And makes it a lot simpler. And then you, at that point, you're just referencing your sheet. The next point I want to talk about is how to deliver that message well, Keep your message brief and concise. Now that may sound contradictory to the previous point of making sure you cover all your information, but the two actually can work together. and. Just because you have a lot information to relay, doesn't mean you have to relay it all at one time. So it's very, it's much easier to break it down into clear, simple, concise points. And that's exactly the way to think of it as, just very clear, simple, concise points. Keep your statements short, as short as possible. Don't, don't intentionally. Abbreviate them down, but make sure that you're not relaying any more information that's necessary. And this is for a number of reasons. One, as I said earlier, it mentally and the way that we absorb information,. Long statements, extended out statements and things like that are very hard to understand and very hard to remember particularly when you're dealing in a crisis situation and hearing's a bit of a problem. The other part is, is there are also a number of other crews, teams, individuals that will also be talking more than likely on the same channel you're using. And in those situations if you're spending a lot of time talking they're not able to relay information, and so it can create bottlenecks for other parts of the operation. So keep them simple, make sure they're something that can be understood, and keep your message short. And you also find it will be easier for them to confirm back that they heard what you said. Let's take a example here by looking at the same transmission and delivered two different ways. And look at how keeping it clear and concise is much easier, than trying to give as much information as possible on the radio. The first one I'll take is the I'll show you is, when we get too much information. So, I'm the instant commander. I'm transmitting to the team, their in the building. And my comment comes back to, instant command to interior team leader. Interior team leader responds with go ahead. So I then respond back with I need you to take your exit the building, take the hose line. Also Jim and Bob need to come with you, your cell. Make sure any tools you've got, need to come out as well. And, you could kinda see as we're, as I'm talking. Eventually, mentally, he's just gonna shut off. And, all he's gonna hear is, we need to get out of the building. We need to exit the building. And that, that comes from the fact that we only take things in small snippets. We don't take big long sentences in, into memory very well. A second [UNKNOWN] would be to say Come back to say instant command to interior team leader. He responds, go ahead. I said, I need your team and all of your equipment to, to exit the building. Very much simpler, much shorter, and much more concise. It accomplishes the same message. It says the same thing. And, but it's a lot shorter and a lot easier to remember. As you can see from this, the definite lesson learned here is that it needs to be trained on, and it needs to be learned in ongoing practice, because we need to make sure that these are skills we keep up and we don't lose. Otherwise it could create problems for us as we get onto the fire scene. Now, an issue we want to take a moment talk about is an issue called cognitive dissonance and this is a very common occurrence on the fire ground. Now, if you consider for a moment all that goes on, on a fire scene, you consider we've got crews working in the building, they may be pulling ceilings, pulling walls. You've got teams in there knocking out fire. You've got other teams that are going, also doing search and rescue. You may have people also trying to pull furniture and belongings out of the house, so that they don't get further damage. There's a number of things happening here. And a lot of things going on. Cause as well you got bells going off. You may have Air packs, the sounds from the air pack that are being picked up. So, you can imagine when someone tries to communicate to you inside the building, that, when you're inside the building it can be very hard to hear, and it can be very hard to understand. And one of the things that tends to happen is when we're inside the building working- And all of this noise is going on, the tendency is to begin to kind of mentally block it out so that we can focus on what we're doing. Now, that works great to continue that focus and keep us focused on what we're doing. The problem is, if somebody tries to communicate to us over the radio, there's a good chance that we won't hear it and this is a common problem. Unless there's something to snap a person out of what they're focused on. And the, listen to the radio communication. You may find yourself where they're trying to broadcast and nothing's heard. So, one of the things that I highly recommend, if it's not a part of your department policy is to find ways using the radio. To kind of break that, that thought process or to break that concentration so that when you've got an important message that you've gotta rely to everyone inside the building or to a particular crew inside the building. And so think of keywords or think of things that you can use that will help bring bring that focus back to what you're trying to say. Now, a good thing about this is that is actually doesn't take something incredibly traumatizing or problematic to get someone's attention and to break that concentration. It can be something very simple as a tone. It can be something, the air horn on the, on the apparatus. Things like that can be used, and that's one of the reasons you typically see when. people are teaching about when to make a call to evacuate the building, the common practice is to sound the air horns to let everybody know to get out of the building. The reason for that is because of this situation. You may be concentrating, working on something, very focused on it, and if somebody sends something over the radio, very likely you will not hear it. So by doing the air horn, it's a break in the monotony, it's a break in the ongoing noise, and that'll cause you to suddenly get, focus your attention on what's being said. And this is a good thing to do, and to find ways that you can do this using the radio. Maybe there's some type of noise on the radio, or simply calling their name initially. And this is actually one of the reasons you typically have. When you broadcast your message that you say who you are and then who you're trying to contact. Because that immediately keys up for the person who's receiving the message, oh, wait a minute they mentioned my name, or they mentioned my title, I need to focus on what's being said. And then again, waiting for that confirmation back that they hear you and want you to proceed with your message. Now the next point I wanna about is that you should always receive confirmation that your message was correctly received. And I, I know we've talked about this in the previous parts, but it's what do you do when you don't get that? And this is very important because you always, always, I can't emphasize this enough, want confirmation. That what you're telling the other person is received and received properly and well understood. Some things you can do for that if for example, I send a message to the interior team, interior attack team, I need you to move to the C side of the building. Using our, working off our same example, I don't get confirmation [INAUDIBLE]. So I, at that point, I don't know if they've received it, I don't know if they've understood it, or if they've even heard it. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna come back on the radio again, and I'm gonna say interior attack, did you receive my last message. And if I, at that point, if they just say yes. There again we hit, we hit that close ended questions, which means we can't, we really don't have confirmation, then I'll, then I'll come back with, can you please confirm, or can you please confirm? And then that's telling them to repeat back to me what I said. And that way I know that what I told them was understood. And that they can now move from there. So we, we wanna get it in that type of order, and again, if we don't get the confirmation, you need to go ahead. If you don't get the confirmation you're looking for, you need to go ahead and force it. Force the issue, in the sense of tet, calling them back, ask them to confirm. Now, and then again if you don't get, response back the second and third time, then you're going to want to send in another team to find out what's going on and to follow up with them to see what the issue is. Now, one thing that does come up is what do you do if you've got a crew that is consistently not responding back to you or you've got an individual that's not responding back to you. How do you handle that? And, and my comment to that specifically is that it needs to be addressed. Because it does create a breakdown in the communication system, when you're not getting individuals or crews that are responding back to you. The initially, I would suggest handling it immediately. Let them know. And this is your feedback to them. Let them know that they need to respond back to your radio transmissions. They need to respond back to others. It may be a situation they may, maybe they don't know. For whatever reason they didn't understand that they were supposed to do that. And this gives you the opportunity to go ahead and correct that before they go back in the next time. And potentially you could have a problem then. So giving that immediate feedback or response that if they, to let them know that they need to be responding back to you is very, is a good point to bring home. Next point I want to talk about is avoid slang or technical jargon. And this may sound silly to have to do, we're all fire fighters, we're all operating on the same team. And more than likely, most of us will be from the same department. But the issue that comes up when you use, let's take for example slangs or contractions or things like that on the radio. A lot of times, they can be misunderstood or not heard properly. When, by the time its received by the other person. So try avoid make using transaction, using slang. Make sure you go ahead and sound the words out. Be very precise in your sound. And that way you have a better chance of as it's being transmitted, it's being heard like it's supposed. The other one is technical jargon, and the reason I say that is even though most of the people on your scene may be from your department and you guys use the same terminology, there may be others on there as well, from other departments that may not use that same terminology. And so you wanna make sure that the terms you use, the way you phrase things are a c, are very understandable to whoever's listening. And one of the early examples of this were the old 10 codes that we used to use in the fire service. And they were the same ones with law enforcement. And oftentimes when I visit towns and things like that you would see that the fire department and the police department may have different tin codes. So even within a municipality they couldn't communicate with each other because of the differentiation in the way they were taught. Add in now. Another department, or several departments that may have their own ten code system, and you just really increased the problem. So, the key lesson here is to stay with, stay with common terminology, common language. Stay away from contractions and slang terms. And keep it very simple. Now, the last point I want to bring up on this particular topic is the issue of remember, the listener may use other terminology than you use so you want to make sure that you're talking in the same language, use the same terminology they are, and I'll give you a perfect example. In the East coast, we have engines and we have tankers. Engine is the apparatus that goes to the scene. They pull the hose, they fight the fire using the engine in most cases. As well the tanker is what provides the water supply if we're dealing with a rural environment. So, we want the, those are two. Now out west, you, you typically hear less of the use of the term engine. And more use of pumper. And the pumper is the apparatus that goes a scene and pulls the hose and fights the fire. From the standpoint as well you also tend to hear water tender. Instead of tanker. If I were out West and I called for a tanker. I'm gonna get an airplane coming with a lot of water that they've got to dump before they can land again. So we wanna make sure in those situation and as we're dealing with different agencies and different departments, that we're all operating on the same terminology and that we all have a consistent way of understanding each other. Now to conclude with this segment, I want to emphasize a very important point here, and that is, communication, as we've talked about throughout this segment, is very, very important, and very critical to the instant success. As I've said before, any time you see a breakdown or something that occurs that goes wrong on the fire scene. Typically ties back to some problem in the communication process. So it's everyone's responsibility in the department to ensure that they understand and properly are able to communicate with other people. From the firefighter level, it's ensuring that you understand what's required of you when you're speaking on the radio. Is understanding that you can speak appropriately, that you speak with a ca, a consistency that we talked about here. From the officer up and other levels of management within the Fire Department, it's important to understand that all of your firefighters are gonna look to you to look for that standardization. So your role in this is not only to work on the speaking skills, but to establish the standardization within your department. How do you, what do you expect from people when they. Respond to a call. What do you expect when they arrive, to get when they arrive on scene? What type of communications do you anticipate throughout the incident and how do you expect people to talk to each other over the radio? All of these issues are, fall in the, area of etiquette on the radio, and it's up to you as the chief's officer and the management level people to ensure that that's established. And enforced so that you have that consistency. [BLANK_AUDIO]

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