Thursday, October 18, 2012

redlights+speed+tunnel vision=death

You know I constantly see where there are firefighters dieing all over the place due to driving. The below link is to a news story involving a kid who died GOING TO A BRUSH FIRE!!!!!!! And guess what is too blame (according to the article)?SPEED! The POV he was in struck a pole and then overturned.
Or there is this one
And if your like me and have dealings with water tenders theres this one
tailboard on a tanker.......enough of those
Whats the problem here? Lets take POV's (personally owned vehicles).
Should we be giving out lights and sirens permits to these people so they can respond to the stations? Or for that fact, do they really even get us there that much faster? In my experience no maybe seconds to a few minutes but in all honesty you will loose that again putting your turnouts on or getting out and too the rig. Even then you may have to wait for more FF's. So what is the problem? In my opinion, its a combination of things. Lack of SOP's, lack of training, tunnel vision, and a lack of calls are some of the main ones. The lack of calls may be the one I listed that may leave you scratching your head so I will explain. When you have maybe 10 runs a month as a volunteer department there is a "craving" so to speak to make that rig, its like the brand new probie wanting jobs. When they come in for the paid guys there right at the station for the volunteer they may be miles or so from the station and so you essentially haul the mail to make good and sure they get your spot on that rig. Which leads to speed.
Two of the links I listed involve POV incidents I don't know if there were SOP's in place regarding driving speeds, light and siren regulations, and consequences for poor driving habits. And if there were policy's in place, was there training involved with that? What department turns guys and girls over to driving the tower ladder or engine with no training on that piece of equipment .  I don't know of any departments that does that, and hope I never do hear of any. Its just crazy. So why not the same thing for POV's? I mean we train our crews on safe operations with the rig and how to handle it. How is the POV with a light and siren different? To me when your using your POV to respond to a call it becomes another piece of apparatus no different than say a mini rescue or brush unit. We train our folks on them and that's a pickup more often than not. In some cases I have seen people with POV"s bigger than what our brush trucks are. But we still train them to that rig don't we.
Now lets look at speed issues how can we stop this nonsense? I believe that you need a strong set of rules and regulations, SOP's, SOG's, what ever your department goes with. You need to have a plan on how to deal with these incidents, a stern talking to may work for some but often times I have seen it not work. What I have seen is the need to pull driving privileges as a firefighter, EMT, Medic, etc make it where they can't respond to runs using lights and sirens.
This is not just volunteer departments paid departments are just as bad. The biggest difference is 9 times out of 10 they wont have a POV accident for the simple reason that they don't drive POV's to the station when the tones drop, they are already there at the station. But you will see them in wrecks involving the rigs like this on Yes, some things you can't control; drivers who don't pay attention and hit you etc, but a lot of times these incidents can be avoided.
Tunnel vision is hard to deal with, its something that everyone will get at one time or another one thing I have found that helps me is to keep reminding myself " Chris if you don't get there at all you wont be able to help at all" it sounds cheesy, but it works for me. I also like to distract myself from the call by focusing on driving. If I need to catch my own plug (hydrant) worry about that when i get there This is where training comes in see when you train for success and train hard, it should not be hard for us to get to the incident and then go to work, in short you wont have to focus on the job while driving. You just have to focus on driving.
  So Please drive carefully out there don't become another NIOSH report.
Stay low....And go
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