Mayday Monday: Expectations of Incident Commander During Mayday

Command leadership: Mayday expectations

By Tony Carroll

Courtesy of the District of Columbia Fire & EMS Department

The Mayday Monday staff just completed a week-long Command Leadership Training Class, which provided the students with real-world experiences from commanders who have been there coupled with computer simulations to enhance their command capabilities. One of the command situations that no one has a lot of experience with is commanding a Mayday! This is good and bad. Good in the sense that we aren’t experiencing many firefighters in trouble on the fireground. Bad, as we need confident chiefs to lead the rescue effort of one of our own. Fortunately, there is help out there. The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) has developed the Fire Ground Survival Program, which has a session on Expectations of Command. The chapter has a short listing of the firefighter’s expectations of incident commander (IC), which incides:

1. Listening

2. Acting

3. Responding

These may seem like simple expectations, but it will still be a very stressful situation. To assist the IC with resolving the Mayday, the IAFF has also developed a list of steps/actions to complete when a Mayday is called.

This week’s drill will be to hold a basic simulation of a fire with a Mayday. Using a picture of a recent fire, grab a few portable radios, assign some role players and simulate a fire incident. Have a member call a Mayday and then the IC will follow the list of actions in Table 2 above (IC Responsibility During Mayday). Change roles of the simulation participants and try it again.  Remember to “Be the IC you would want commanding your Mayday.”

Thanks for your support of Mayday Mondays.  Until next week, remember why we get to celebrate Independence Day…Freedom isn’t Free.

Tony Carroll is a captain with the safety office of the District of Columbia Fire & EMS Department.

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