(Above, L-R: Dr. Paul O. Davis, Rommie Duckworth)
Question: During the past year, was there an event, an occurrence, or a bit of knowledge you came across that moved you to think, “Wow! I must remember to include that in my FDIC class or workshop this year”?
Those who have attended the “Drive to Survive” seminar are well aware that fire apparatus have longer stopping distances than a typical car. This difference can pose a significant safety hazard, especially if the fire apparatus is being driven too fast. In 2016, I set up a large-scale study to evaluate the braking efficiency of fire apparatus. My goal was to evaluate the reduced braking efficiency of fire apparatus by conducting full-scale skid tests.
On September 19, 2016, several police department crash reconstruction teams in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, region joined forces with local fire departments to conduct the skid testing. Thirty fire apparatus skid tests were conducted under controlled circumstances. All of the tests were documented using scientific instruments; the results proved invaluable.
The data collected during the tests validated the information taught in the “Drive to Survive” seminar. Furthermore, vehicle inspections conducted prior to testing revealed that 20 percent of the fire apparatus participating in the test had improperly adjusted brakes. The fact that so many fire apparatus arrived in an unsafe condition was extremely concerning. I realized this information must be passed along to every fire department as soon as possible. This information is now part of every “Drive to Survive” training seminar. I look forward to discussing these tests at this year’s FDIC International “Drive to Survive” seminar on Thursday, April 27, 2017 at 10:30 a.m.
For more information on the skid tests, please visit Fire Apparatus and Emergency Equipment Magazine…http://www.fireapparatusmagazine.com/articles/print/volume-21/issue-12/features/fire-apparatus-skid-testing-exercise-offers-unique-training-opportunity.html
Paul O. Davis, Ph.D., FACSM, director First Responder Institute, Maryland
Reading a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health report of a line-of-duty death during a recruit academy, it occurred to me that this needless death may have prevented if the department had meaningful hiring standards.
Dena Ali, Dena Ali, Engine 24 A, Raleigh, North Carolina
In the last year, so much has changed regarding firefighter suicide and awareness of the issue. The problem surrounding firefighter suicide is not new. Dr. Janet S. Savia’s 1999 retrospective, 15-year study, “Suicide among North Carolina professional firefighters: 1984—1999” discovered that firefighters were three times more likely to die of suicide than in the line of duty.
However, in the past year, for the first time, we have seen firefighter suicides being shared over Facebook and by news outlets. My course objective that firefighter suicide is a dark secret is changing. People nationwide are recognizing the problem and want to help prevent further occurrences.
In the past year, I have been invited to teach my class across North and South Carolina. Additionally, two nonprofit groups that I work with (Carolina Brotherhood and 555 Fitness) have asked me if they could expand their mission to include firefighter behavioral health, specifically suicide prevention. As a result, the class I created a year ago has evolved. We have found more mechanisms that can help prevent firefighter suicide, and we are seeing that agencies are willing to recognize the problem and participate in solving it.
The portion of my class covering suicide has widely expanded. I am so excited to share this in April at FDIC International. Although positive social support is still the leading preventative factor, we have learned that there are methods firefighters can take as individuals to help themselves be more resilient. Two of these methods are meditation (just 10 minutes a day using an app such as Headspace) and physical fitness. At my station, we have discovered the sport of pickleball, which we play daily. This has turned out to be an amazing way for our team to interact (i.e., positive social support), and all members are becoming more active (physical fitness).
Prof. Dr. Ing. Michael Reick
Concerning my topic, “Control the Flow Path and Snuff the Fire—Proved European Tactics and SOPs,” I received new information about a couple of real fire tests in multistory buildings in France with great results. I received dozens of new incident reports from countries around the world and multiple footages showing smoke spread that endangered civilians during real fire incidents. I will include this new and important information in my class at FDIC International 2017.
Also, in June 2016’s the Kill the Flashover Project, I taped different situations that show very interesting smoke flow characteristics. As a result, I have a lot of new material to share with FDIC attendees.
Pix Capt. Rommie L. Duckworth, LP, Ridgefield (CT) Fire Department
During a rescue, effective coordination among different groups is vital for any kind of good outcome. As I discuss in the FDIC International presentation, “Squeeze Play: Crush Injury, Crush Syndrome, and Suspension Injury,” when it comes to prolonged entrapment, not only does everyone have to be an expert in their area, but they must also understand what other team members are trying to accomplish.
In our small suburban New England department, although fire, rescue, and emergency medical services (EMS) work and train together as part of the same agency, there is a lot of room for improvement regarding regional coordination. At a large training event in 2016, several officers from adjoining Connecticut departments acknowledged this, and together we planned how we might be able to change that.
Although rescues from prolonged entrapment may be rare for our individual departments, they are not unheard of in our region. By themselves, none of our departments have all the resources they need. I put together “Squeeze Play” to highlight what different specialists from different agencies need to know about what makes these incidents different and why they demand such a high degree of careful coordination. I’m proud to be able to share this information at FDIC International 2017 so that other firefighters, rescue technicians, and advanced and basic life support EMS providers can prepare for incidents like these in their home agencies.