Countdown..5…4…3…2…1…MAYDAY!

For a number of years the topic of the mayday and mayday training has flooded the fire service. Most of the training that is out there is excellent and the range and scope is wide. We have classes for drags, carries, wide area searches, commanding the mayday, orientation training to help prevent mayday and a ton of SCBA training.
I am approaching this commentary on the prevention aspect and I want you to read it and take whatever action you can at your level in your department.
I want to consider those things that are occurring every day within you department that no one ” has the bravery” (yes, clearly I was going to use another term) to address.
A couple of weeks ago I think, Bill Carey at The Backstep Firefighter did a story on a tanker accident and the seatbelt pledge. Take a look by clicking the link.(if you haven’t been to the site before to check it out, there is great stuff there.)
Lets talk about some things that happen all the time that will get us in trouble.
The shift, group or member who really does not check equipment and tools and just pencil whips the check sheet. Wen a piece of critical equipment fails or spare air bottles are not filled, those things can cause a problem.
The firefighter in a department that everyone talks about at the kitchen table who just for whatever reason can no longer perform their job. (Or maybe they were a political hire and never could perform their job) do you want them on the initial attack to get lost injured or hurt, or do you want them as your RIT team while you are down and inside.
How about the driver you have that has hit everything but the lottery and we still let them drive. Speed through intersections, unable to secure a hydrant and a lousy pump operator to boot! (Ok, tell me you have never been waiting for water and had to go to the pump panel yourself to open the correct lever to charge the correct line)
How about the 375 pound career firefighter who is taking blood pressure pills like tic tacs? Or on call or volunteer member as well.
How about the volunteer or on call firefighter who has been with the company forever but is really too old or in poor health to continue, but we let them stay on the job because no one wants to hurt their feelings.
How about the person who cannot wear and SCBA or climb an aerial because of claustrophobia or a fear of heights and they have never been caught or discovered yet? They did it to get by recruit school and never since.
When was the last time you had a medical physical? A real one that complies with the NFPA standards. Even that won’t prevent everything but in many cases around the country it is finding health problems before they become an issue.
The list could go on and on, but I think you get my point. In every fire department, paid or volunteer , large or small, there are a variety of ticking time bombs waiting for us to be mixed with the right circumstance or incident and we will have an injury, mayday or worse a LODD.
We don’t have the strength to tell uncle Joe the older volunteer that he can’t respond anymore, because we will hurt his feelings or he will get mad, but we can somehow find the strength to let him suffer a heart attack and take him from his wife of thirty years and his grand children? There is something just wrong with our thinking. We have the strength for that?
Keep training on RIT and all of the current stuff we are doing. But while you and your department are doing that make some tough decisions and try to recent the things that we clearly know are wrong but we turn a blind eye to because of “the brotherhood”.
Brothers do not knowingly let brothers get killed, when it is preventable. We owe it to their families, the citizens we protect, and each other.
So I started this post with a countdown….5…4…3…2…1, I guess the question is was I talking about 5 years, 5 months, 5 weeks, 5 days, 5 hours, or 5 minutes?
Do not just go to work and be an “empty uniform” be fully engaged all the time. Give your best. Be the member in your department that everyone hopes is on the RIT team when they are in trouble. By in physical, medical and mental shape to prevent a MAYDAY.
Pete Lamb @ Copyright 2012
For information contact pete@petelamb.com