Category Archives: News

Horseplay or Violence in the Workplace? Lebanon, TN Firefighters suspended for choke hold after fart

Firehouse.com is sharing a report from the Lebanon Democrat paper in Lebanon, TN, about an incident that has led to at least 2 suspensions of firefighters.

Initial reports indicated that one firefighter, also a mixed martial arts enthusiast, choked another firefighter.  I was on board with the suspensions based on that information.  However, as I learned in my short 2.5 years in Risk Management, the first version is never what really happened.

So here’s what did happen:

Shenanigans.

Let me explain.

One firefighter had a habit of breaking wind near people and walking away.  Reports indicate he is older than 12 regardless of this form of entertainment.

One firefighter was sitting at the computer when the wind breaker attacked, sending fumes towards his coworker and scurrying into the other room.  Witnesses later stated the co-worker, smelling the offensive gift, gave chase, caught the squeaker and put him in a choke hold.  Words were exchanged and at least 1 person took cell phone video of the event.

The attacker was released by his attacker and suffered no injury but did lose consciousness briefly.

Shenanigans.

This is no different than what happens in countless firehouses across the Nation.

However, your personnel manager may see it differently.  Acting Personnel Director Lee Ann Crosslin disagreed with the finding of the Department that this event was horseplay.  She classified it as workplace violence.

Take a deep breath everyone.

The firefighter who got choked stated he was not humiliated, he suffers no health effects as a result and that the action against him was not malicious.

None of that matters to the third party after the fact.

Much like how sexual harassment now includes bystanders who are uncomfortable with something 2 others actually participating are comfortable with, what passes as hore play, or bonding, by one group of people appears violent to another.

And that other has considerable political power in this case.

We don’t have the full story, not until the video is released by someone that is, so my comments below are based on the article linked above.

Lighten the Fuck up.

All of you.

Someone farts in your direction?  Fart back.

Think farting in someone’s direction is funny? Grow up.

If someone says nothing happened we don’t need to assume they’re suffering from some kind of battered wife-like syndrome, protecting their attacker.

It’s the firehouse.  If what happened in this story is to truly be interpreted as workplace violence I need to be arrested and locked up for life.

There is a fine line here, let’s not forget.  What can start as fun can turn dangerous when the recipient calls Uncle or safety gear or equipment is involved.

Don’t put potatoes in their boots, short sheet the bed.  Run a bag of fluid in the ceiling tiles to drip on their pillow all night.  Send them to get the hose stretcher or to spend the night stirring the tanks, but be careful because someone outside our community may think you’re being mean and, well, suspend you. Or worse.

Regardless of my feelings on this case, or yours, you need to read, understand and follow your local rules and regulations regarding horseplay, pranks and personal interactions.

I’m not sure what bothers me more: That this all started with a fart or that so many political offices got involved.

 

Still Here. Still Sharing.

30 days away from you guys was tough, but I did OK.  I know there’s a hole in your heart from missing my rambling therapy experiment, but fear not fair reader, I’m back.

For reasons I can’t discuss I left the content of this site unchanged for 30 days, at my own request.

Now I can get back to venting, wishing, dreaming and sharing.

Speaking of sharing, those of you who subscribe to Fire Engineering Magazine should keep an eye out for your August 2014 issue which should contain an article about the way to enforce rules and regulations when it comes to sharing media.

“What the frack is sharing media?” you ask?

Sharing Media refers to the ever growing methods and, more importantly reasons, for sharing traditional (photo, paper, magazine, TV) and electronic (facebook, tweet, instagram, video) media.  Social media seems to focus on the facebook and the twitter and the instagram, which all require a set audience or group of friends.  I use Sharing Media to refer to any and all instances where an idea, sentence, paper, image, concept or anything else is shared with another in any format.  This covers internet sites, phone apps, newspaper and magazine articles, even the cork board at the local coffee shop.  The reason for this new definition is not only to expand the definition of media out of the pixels you see here but remind folks that it is the reason to share, not the method, that we should focus on.

In other words, focus on WHY, not HOW.

Most Fire Departments have rules covering the HOW that already cover the non pixelated methods of being foolish.  Simply expand that already existing net and, -boom-

 

You don’t need a social media policy.  You already have a Sharing Media Policy.  Use it.

More on that topic, why WHY is so important and what you as a line firefighter, emt, manager, company or chief officer can do TODAY to get out of the digital swamp of social media restriction in the upcoming (I’ve been told) issue.

As always I welcome you feedback on that and any other ramblings you find on these pixels, in other articles, forums or sites, in the interwebs or magazines.  I stand behind all my shared media and always consider the WHY before I share.  There’s a lot I want to share but have chosen not to.

Thanks for coming back and keep coming back as lots of product reviews are in the works including the flashlight I wish they sent me 2 of and a pair of boots without laces.  No, they’re not the Nikes from Back to the Future.

Above all be safe!

-HM

18 year old woman dead after chasing cop with knife. Family wanted ambulance instead.

Yes, you read that correctly. What you will also read correctly is this cobbled together “news” story written to inflame your hatred of the po-po:

Worried family calls 911 hoping for ambulance, cops show up instead and KILL HER

Great work on the headline there Eric Owens, Education Editor. I guess there’s no need to think this call through as far as my 3rd grade daughter could, but let’s give it a try shall we?

1.  The family should have intervened long ago.  Years ago.  Waiting until someone with known mental health issues starts grabbing the cutlery is not the time to reach out for help.

2.  Ambulances can not make people take psych medications.  Again, see #1 “Family.”  So far we’ve identified people far more responsible for the death of this girl than the police, but let’s keep going.

3.  They called 911 “hoping” for an ambulance.  No one calls 911 and requests resources, that’s not how it works.  People call and state what is happening, the dispatcher assigns the appropriate resource for the situation described.  Speaking of which…

4.  Paramedics can not safely deal with persons who have stated their desire to harm others or who may have weapons.  Paramedics are trained to assess and treat medical and traumatic conditions.  The reason the dispatcher sent a Police officer is because what happened happens far more often than people realize: People who want to hurt others pick up stuff that hurts others.

5.  Even the 12 year old kid saw the knife.  Let’s put you in the Officer’s shows for a moment.  A woman chases you with a knife.  A woman with known psychological issues.  A woman who is not taking her medications.  Now what do you do?  There can be all sorts of outcry about tazers and tackles and other such nonsense but when it comes down to it the Officer did what they had to do to remove the threat.

6.  To all of you about to comment that I don’t know what I’m talking about, I wasn’t there, I don’t have the full story, go over to Eric’s story and comment there first.

 

Eric, here are some headlines I think better fit the story:

“Woman killed by police after chasing them with knife off psych meds”

“Officers forced to kill knife wielding woman after family fails to assure she is healthy”

“Family unable to help 18 year old prior to her chasing police with a knife and being shot”

“Ambulances do not help people take medicine”

“Education Editor writes inflammatory headline oblivious to how 911 works”

 

Motorcop has a post up that should shut up all the “Why didn’t they just taze her” folks.  Go have a read and see this situation through an Officer’s eyes.

A human being is dead because someone waited too long to help her.  Blame the family, the system, the Doctors, Obama, Bush, God, heck blame me, pick your enemy, but don’t turn this into a situation where the evil police are to blame. They were just there at her worst hour and did what they are trained to do when people attack them with knives.

 

 

San Francisco becomes Gotham City for 5 year old Bat Kid!

San Francisco has been transformed into Gotham City as part of a Make-A-Wish Foundation wish granting for 5 year old Miles.

Learn more HERE and follow the LIVE feed HERE.

 

Bat Kid is being escorted by the caped crusader himself and has already matched wits with a fellow called the Puzzler, who tied a helpless woman to the tracks in front of a run away cable car.  It is rumored that another fellow called Penguin has been spotted near AT&T Park and famous SF Giant’s mascot Lou Seal is missing.

It appears by the names being used that perhaps there is a legal issue with saying he’s with Batman, but the almost 10,000 people expected to take part in this boy’s adventure don’t seem to care.  They’re lining the streets to catch a shot of the Batkid in his Batcar fighting crime while fighting Leukemia.

Proud of San Francisco coming together like this to turn what could have been handled with a simple guy in a suit into a truly memorable and inspiring morning.

Your move New York.

EMS Flashmob

Eli Beer formed an all volunteer First Aid/EMS group when he was 17.  In the process of developing the program he volunteered on an ambulance and was always upset when they would get stuck in traffic.

Eli attributed his dying patients’ demise on the extended response time and wanted to do more for them in the time between when they needed help and when help arrived.

This video goes directly to the core of the Response Time argument and it is important to make a clear distinction between first response and ambulance response times.

We can all agree that getting someone in the door quickly can help guide the rest of the system’s response.  This can be a fire department engine, an EMT Police Officer or perhaps a third service handling first response.  What we don’t need is to send a reclined cot van on every call, nor does it need to get there in 4 minutes most of the time to make a difference.

In this TEDMED talk, Eli talks about how he came to found United Hatzalah and send motorcycles he calls “Ambucycles” to the scene of an emergency to help until an ambulance can arrive.  He touts a 3 minute response time to over 207,000 incidents last year and is using mobile technology to achieve it.

The phone app broadcasts the medical incident to the 5 closest volunteers in the same way CPR needed apps do so in the states.  When he mentioned it was kind of like an EMS flash mob he had my attention.  We’re locked into some old ideas and this one breaks the mold.

 

Why aren’t we as communities encouraging this kind of organization?  Sure there are volunteer First Aid Squads all over, but this is far far simpler than that.  And don’t wave the liability flag here, those folks would have to be trained to get access to the app and with the right kind of basic QA program built in you’re golden.

What do you think of the various things mentioned in this video?

  • Motorcycle first response
  • Volunteers
  • Phone App dispatching

 

Ellerbe may be ahead of his time

DC FEMS Chief Kenneth Ellerbe unveiled a plan for EMS redistribution in the Nation’s Capital and it is getting some nasty comments online and from the local Firefighter’s Union.

I can’t necessarily comment on Ellerbe’s reasoning for his move, since I don’t know what it is, but I can tell you that he’s WAY ahead of his time.  I just think he doesn’t know it yet.

You see, DC FEMS will be down staffing ALS transport units from 0100 to 0700, a time when calls for service are drastically less than the daytime hours.  On the surface, it makes perfect sense.  Cut extra resources when they’re not needed.  If it can be done and still meet the demand for quality ALS transport, great.  If it can be done while still meeting all the guidelines set forth by the local EMS regulatory agencies, great.  (Now our UHU calculations come in handy, don’t they?)

But what happens when your calls for service are ALS?

Ellerbe’s answer is to staff up that ambulance for the transport with one of the 21-25 ALS engine resources and 7 ALS supervisor units.   That also makes sense, until that fire engine is doing something else, like already transporting an ALS patient.  Forget being on a fire or an alarm or rescue, these resources will be BLS as their extra member attends another transport.  now units are scrambling to pick up medics at hospitals or BLS ambulances are out returning medics to their company.

My agency could consider such a move in the future, but it will be doomed for failure because of the high call volume of seemingly ALS calls as defined by the local EMS regulatory agency.  Without decreasing the number of patients, we can’t decrease the number of transports.

If DC FEMS can also flex their ALS Supervisor resources to augment the system of transports, they will also soon run out and someone from the engine will need to return their buggy to the hospital or the BLS unit give them a ride back to their buggy parked back at the scene.  More time will be spent returning units than responding in many cases.

 

Ellerbe’s plan is ahead if it’s time, but as far as I’ve been able to find it will not be as efficient as it needs to be.

Why you ask?

Because it needs to be coupled to a “Respond Not Convey” program, or as we call it on the street, the Paramedic Initiated Refusal.  Refusing transport to certain patients who do not need it is the relief DC FEMS needs to better serve the population.  So long as every stubbed toe and runny nose that wants transport gets it, you will continue to have 4 person ALS engines or ALS supervisors at the scene of incidents waiting for an ambulance.  We call it “Medic to Follow” and it is the number one drain on our system. “But Happy, that’s a BLS run!” Not if they used the magic word “Chest pain” to get triaged faster.  And we all know that NEVER happens…right?

 

With the sudden interest in the Community Paramedic model, many systems will have to address the issue of Respond Not Convey if they want to increase services without increasing resources.  I would love nothing more than to deploy our fleet of ALS supervisors to handle community paramedicine, but we’re dealing with an increase in call volume and market share.  And we have less than HALF the amount of ALS supervisors DC FEMS deploys.

 

Ellerbe’s plan seems like a slap in the face to some, but I see it as a new way of deploying resources.  Thing is, it will work.  That is until a second call comes out.  Then a third, then a fourth and next thing you know Engine 99 is sitting on the curb IFO the clinic awaiting a second engine to respond with a medic so the BLS unit idling at the scene can transport.

 

Just a gentle reminder: These views are my own, not those of the SFFD, the City or any one else, just me.

cilais online

2012 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants

Great series Giants!  See you on Wednesday for the parade!

Pre-Requisites for the Chicago Rescue Squad?

Many Fire Departments have strenuous and extensive requirements to make their rescue squad.

In NBC’s new show Chicago Fire, apparently all you have to do is have worked as an EMT in San Francisco.

Taylor Kinney as SFFD EMS EMT Probie Glenn Morris in Trauma

 

 

 


Taylor Kinney as Lieutenant Kelly Severide on NBC’s new show Chicago Fire

 

Not bad, SFFD EMT to CFD Lieutenant in 3 short years.

Also interesting that both Departments seem to have such lax rules regarding rugged facial hair.

 

After this show is cancelled what do you think Kelly will return as?

CalFire Air Ops up close – VIDEO

Our good pal Dylan, noted BlogStalker, childhood Explorer Scout friend and Chief Programmer at GasdaSoftware got a surprise while out back the other day:

 

CalFire was responding to a slow moving fire that proved difficult to access on Sept 3rd.  It was on site of the Concord Naval Weapons Station, a deactivated WWII munitions depot primed for development if anyone can figure out how to remove all the ordinance. While we could smell the smoke at HMHQ Dylan, from Gasda Software, had a far better vantage point.  I’d be curious to hear the pilot’s thoughts about all the kids at the edge of the pond.

 

And yes, that’s a separate helicopter.

 

Thanks for the video Dylan!

Good Luck MC!

WikipediaTomorrow morning (Monday) our buddy Motorcop is taking the sarg…the seargean…the saarg…well, he’s looking to promote.   In an effort to help him out I was able to pull some strings and get some of the exam questions.

I hope these help!

 

Vehicle 1 is parked facing south 22 feet from a stop sign in a 25MPH zone with hazard lights activated.  Vehicle 2 is traveling south at a speed of 35 MPH wit ha driver holding a cell phone to his head.  If vehicle 2 impacts vehicle 1 after applying the brake pedal for 20 feet, how far away is the Starbucks?

 

A male has been witnessed peeking into windows at the local yoga studio.  When you arrive on scene do you,

A) Detain the man in the london fog coat looking into the window.

B) Question the man in the london fog coat looking into the window.

C) Tazer the man in the london fog coat looking into the window.

D) Point out to the studio owner that their window faces a public street, the blinds are open and it’s daylight.

 

One of your patrol officers fails to report for duty.  Phoning his residence there is no answer, but he answers his cell phone.  He states he is sick and notified the night Sergeant, but in the background you hear an airport announcement.  Do you,

A) Notify him he is in violation of Dept regulations and begin suspension paperwork.

B) Accept his statement and place him off sick, then call in a cover.

C) Call the night Sgt to confirm the story.

D)  WTF guys? Am I not invited on the camping trip again this year?

 

CVC 21100 addresses _______________________________

A) The size and location of mud flaps on commercial vehicles.

B) The allowable length of overhang of an object protruding from a vehicle before it needs to be flagged and lighted.

C) Electric vehicles on sidewalks

D) No one is ever going to look it up, just pick something random.

 

And the question weighted most heavily on the exam:

Responding to a reported man down you arrive to find the local town drunk an inebriated fellow.  Do you,

A) Dismount bike in manly fashion making sure all civilians see the stripes.

B) Assess the situation after growing a bad ass mustache.

C) Ensure the man down is breathing and if not, begin life saving efforts

D) Stand over him, hands on belt and shout “Stay down! The heroes are coming!” after calling for an ambulance.

 

Good luck MC, we’re all rooting for you!