Category Archives: Line of Duty

The last letters are back

Looking through the traffic for this little blog I came across an old post getting more views than usual so I thought I’d put it back up here on the top for a little while.

 

Originally posted March 30, 2010.

The last letters you’ll ever write

“…

Today’s step is an important one, but in no way, shape or form should it be your first.

Tonight you are going to write a Line of Duty Death instructions sheet to your spouse and loved ones to read and follow only in the event of your death, at work.

This is different than your living will, which you all have now, right?

This is also different than any funeral arrangements you may have made or hope to make.

In the back of the Family Disaster Plan are two important sets of instructions.  The first is the Line of Duty Injury instructions sheet.

This gives my wife a list of phone numbers at Headquarters as well as who to ask for at the firehouse, “the Captain” and “Daywatch” to get someone who can tell her more about what may have happened to me if she is indeed notified that I am injured on the job.

The last time I got hurt no one called her because I was treated and released so quickly.  But if it happens again and she gets a phone call in the middle of the night, she knows to take a deep breath and relax.  I know because that is how the instructions start.

Here is just a snippet to get you thinking about what to write in yours-

“Well, you got the phone call you’ve been dreading.  I understand you are upset.  If I got hurt I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  We’ll worry about all that later, I need you to start thinking three hours ahead.  Each decision you make between now and this time tomorrow will set the pace for the coming week.  Take a deep breath and calm down.

I’ll wait.

Good.

Goto the closet and get one of my work T-Shirts or sweatshirts and wear it when you come to see me.  Be honest if folks ask if you need anything.  Take their help.  They need to help as much as you need it.”

It will get emotional when you prepare them for what they might see when a firefighter is injured in the line of duty.  Be honest.  If you dance around topics now it will only create confusion at the most improper time.  End the letter by reminding them that even though you are hurt, it could be worse.

Now, while an emotional wreck, excuse yourself and be alone for a bit and HAND WRITE the next letter – Line of Duty Death Instructions.

This letter is the one they will keep and read over and over and over after you are gone.  Tell them about why you did what you did or chose this job, profession, occupation, place to volunteer.  Sign it, seal it in an envelope and put it in the back of the Disaster Plan.

On the same day, make plans to open the letter the day after your retirement.  Perhaps someplace tropical.

Do it now or regret it later, your choice.

HM”

 

365 Days

 


BOX 8155

10:44am Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

LODD – Lt Vincent Perez – Engine 26
Perez - Badge

LODD – FF/PM Anthony Valerio – Engine 26

Valerio - Badge

Click HERE to learn more about these brave men

In Remembrance…

Special thanks to the men of OCFA Engine Co 26

Brendan Vaccaro Photography

and a remarkably well raised young man

the Crossover Show – Episode 7 FSTs and the News

Another installment of my mother’s favorite podcast is up and live featuring myself and the ever talented Motorcop of Motorcopblog.com.

This week he discusses some of the news stories from the LEO perspective including blood draws for DUI and a man shot for pointing a hose nozzle at police. I mention the New Mexico EMT recovering from a head on collision on I-25 and how many ambulance accidents could be avoided entirely.

News of Scarlett Johannsen’s divorce makes the list, as do more listener questions.

Speaking of listener questions, did you know you can now CALL INTO the show? Well, not really, but admit it, you were excited for a second. Leave a voicemail at 313 451-HMMC and we’ll answer your question on the next show.
What will that topic be? Listen to episode 7 for details. We’ve actually planned a topic. GASP!

Episode 7

You can also subscribe to the show feed HERE

We have been busy little bees indeed.

Calculated Risk and Letters in the Files

Before you get too excited to hear what I think about the politician and the ambulance company at the shooting scene, close the door and take a seat.
Before you go ripping into scene safety and how this guy has no idea what it is we do, take a deep breath.

Because half of you are hypocrites.

How many of you race lights and sirens without wearing your seat belts? According to NIOSH studies and reviews of fatal and non fatal ambulance accidents…HALF. Yes, half.
Half of you are not wearing your seat belts in your ambulance.

So when you complain that some politician thinks you are invincible and should go racing into an unsafe scene, I almost gag knowing full well HALF of you already do that on a daily basis. And for even more minor incidents than the one in the press.

Yes, this is a letter in YOUR file. Those of you not wearing your seat belts in the cab of the ambulance. Patient care in the back does not even enter into this or the data I’m finding, this is only about in the cab.

So many were so fast to jump on the politician, yet how many of you really pay attention to yourselves on a daily basis?
Worried about a wrinkled shirt? Can’t reach the radio? Go ahead, try to give an excuse for not wearing your seat belt, the same thing you preach about to unrestrained drivers at wreck scenes. You can’t. There is no excuse for not wearing your seat belt in the cab of the ambulance. None.

Then why is not wearing one killing so many EMS responders?

We’re not a stupid group, stubborn perhaps, but we seem to understand kinematics and mechanism of injury, at least to the point it guides our treatment, but to not apply those standards to our own flesh and blood is insane.

Stop shaking your head and muttering that you already do wear it. Half of you are lying. Lying to yourselves.

I’ve had enough. You have made me unHappy.

Buckle up. I’m getting annoyed reading these studies about line of duty deaths and the lack of a simple click that could have made a difference. And if you are a LODD from not wearing a seat belt, should it really be a Line of Duty Death or should it be renamed Lack of Due Diligence?

Medic 49 Victor responding

FDNY*EMS Ambulance 485 was the first EMS unit assigned to what Battalion 1 reported as “An aircraft into the Twin Towers.”

This unit, on air as Medic 49 Victor,  was staffed by Battalion 49 Paramedics Carlos Lillo and Roberto Abril.

Roberto chronicled the events of that day in a notebook in his own hand.  The notes can be seen at the website of his partner, who died in the collapse, Carlos Lillo.com

He is one of the EMS Division casualties included in the “343 Firefighters” killed that morning.

From the website:

On September 11, 2001 we lost our beloved FDNY Paramedic Carlos Lillo from Battalion 49, doing what he did best, Saving Lives. Carlos was one of the most admired paramedics in New York City. Carlos showed his courage, dedication, and unwavering commitment to the people of our city, state, and nation with the ultimate sacrifice.

Carlos began his career as a volunteer at Astoria Volunteer Ambulance Corp. in the early eighties, where he went to EMT school. He worked for Associated Ambulance while awaiting his dream and passion to work for NYC EMS. This dream came true in 1984 and it took very little time before Carlos flourished as an EMT, working on a tactical unit in some of the toughest neighborhoods in the Bronx in some of the busiest times the EMS system has ever seen. He then realized another dream: becoming a paramedic. He spoke so passionately about not just being a medic but being the best paramedic, that one couldn’t help but be inspired by his attitude even the old time medics.  Carlos worked for many services within the 911 system where he was loved and respected by all for his professionalism and passion for what he did.

There is a grief that can’t be spoken when you lose someone like Carlos. It is our duty to carry on the tradition of excellence that Carlos lived and to keep his memory alive. Carlos leaves behind the love of his life wife Cecilia, mother Ilia, sisters Iliana and Olga , his brother Cesar and half-brother Alex.

It is in honor of this great paramedic and person that we formed “The Carlos Lillo Memorial Scholarship Fund” to benefit underprivileged students.  Every year we come together to celebrate Carlos during The Carlos Lillo Memorial Golf Outing which was formed to support the scholarship fund with the purpose to help those that want to be and do what he did for us.

Carlos was laid to rest September 14th, 2002.

Hidden in all the “Never Forget”and “343″ stickers and T-shirts are thousands of tales of heroism and bravery, brotherhood and citizenship. Learn one. Pass it along to others.

Please visit the site and learn more about Carlos and how you can help keep his dreams alive.

2009′s story to remember

Can you see me now?

Have we all gone Hi-Vis insane?

Forget about a nanny culture or statistics about it making us safer.  Last I heard it was the flashing lights that attracted sleepy and inebriated drivers so turning me and my crew into passive crappy driver attractant is not my idea of a good time.

I wear my vest most times, really I do.  Mainly on account of my uniform is all navy blue and at night I disappear.  Perhaps the slight chance I get seen at the last minute is the point, but I have a big coat with reflective that could do the same thing.

“What the heck, Hap?  What got you all fired up?”

This photo from Ray Kemp at 911Imaging.

You saw this series on the cover of JEMS magazine a little while back.  The first thing that will catch your eye is the sea of reflective vests, running about $100 a piece on the rescuers, covering the reflective on their turnouts.  The ambulance folks have them on as well, well done, folks.

But look IN THE STREET!

In the one place those vests can actually be useful and you’ll see two fellows wearing what I wear, all dark colors.

Well, I wasn’t there so I can’t blah, blah, blah.  No, I’m jumping in here and pointing out that perhaps we have our priorities a bit out of whack.  We go racing to jump on the Hi-Vis bandwagon without looking at what our people already have and using it to our advantage.  Hidden in all the stories of people getting hit and killed in the streets are the facts adding up that vests don’t stop cars, trucks and SUVs from killing you.

If you stand in the road covered in day glow paint carrying flares you will still die.  If we trained our drivers to block the road with the giant reflective rigs, perhaps the vests could go to those who have no giant truck to protect them.

Better yet, where is the increased driver’s education to stop the poor drivers from trying to kill us in the first place?  Rhetorical for sure, but I can see at least $1000 in this photo that could go a long way.

My own service is not immune to the allure of the shiny, reflective vests.  We have some that say Incident Commander, others say Triage.  Mine on the engine says SFFD in black on a field of bright yellow and silver.

Here’s a picture from one of our new engines under construction (Thanks Crimson-Fire):

That is where the reflective belongs!  And while we’re at it, can we get some more warning on the sides of these giant road blocks?  How nifty if we could get an arrow stick on the sides AND the back, since if we park to block the scene the rear mounted one is hard to spot.

Some Departments deploy street signs out ahead of the scene, cones, flares, all those kinds of nifty, expensive street decorations aren’t stopping the drivers who are going to hit us anyway.

Even on a simple vehicle fire on the highway, we need to focus on parking and awareness rather than throwing money into reflective to cover up reflective just to check a box on a state form.

If you have a vest wear it, but use common sense first.  Use that giant thing that drove you there to protect the scene and stay out of traffic.  Leaving the scene unprotected and going in and out of moving cars will get you killed, no matter how much shiny suit we plaster on you.

Be safe people,

HM