You Make the Call – Hotel Rooms

Dispatch has rung you out for a reported sick/altered mental status at a local hotel.  No, not the one all the addicts live in when they cash their checks, the one where all the conferences are held.  Confidence is high that this might actually be a call for a sick person.

Halfway to the scene you hear another rig toned out for the same complaint at the same hotel, different room.  Double checking your screen you are going to a Mr Brown in Room 403, Medic 88 is responding for a Mrs Gutierrez in room 503.

Arriving at the scene you are met by the manager who asks you to park around back so as not to frighten the patrons.  Ignoring him you take the elevator up to 403 and find Mr Brown doubled over the toilet, vomiting.  It is then the door to room 405, the room next door, opens and a young woman asks you to take a look at her mother, who is dizzy and vomiting.

Something is bothering you about this, but you agree to stop in after checking on Mr Brown.  Mr Brown’s wife is also feeling dizzy and complaining of nausea.

From upstairs Medic 88 is asking radio for a full hazmat response and to shelter the hotel immediately, then goes off air.

What is your reaction?

You make the call.

Time to update your Disaster Plan

As you know, we invest in preparation.  Training, equipment checks, drills, studying, all leading to when the bells ring and we are expected to spring forth with knowledge and actions that seem natural to the casual observer.

However, most of us leave all that preparation at work and come home to a completely unprepared family in case of disaster.  This is the reason I developed my own Family Disaster and Evacuation Plan.

Included in the plan are a number of instructions for my family, and me, on where to shut off utilities, how to shelter in place, who to call for help and what to take and where to go if ordered to evacuate.

As part of the plan, my family keeps on hand a 3 day supply of food and water.  You may remember a brief overview of the contents from the 60 Second lifesaving tip before Episode 6 of Seat at the Table.

Well, it’s that time of year to go through the kit and donate all the foods that will be expiring in the coming year and replacing them with new foods, updating your family’s tastes and needs.

If you would like to know more about how you can make your own custom disaster kit, click HERE to go to our Disaster Plan Page and learn more.

You Make the Call – Resources needed elsewhere?

A full structure fire alarm has been struck for a dense residential area in the neighboring district. You catch the alarm while on the way to shopping and as you accelerate you see the first in engine sitting in the parking lot of the grocery store a block ahead.

You’re first due now.

On arrival you have light smoke from the garage of a 3 story type 5 house, approx 30 feet wide and 100 feet deep with the neighboring homes of similar type and so close it prohibits a 360 size up.

Your firefighter has made contact with the owner who states heavy smoke in the rear of the garage but no fire. Inside visibility is clear and his definition of “heavy” is clearly based on never seeing a fully smoke charged room.
In the back of the garage is an over heated electrical panel leading to the elevator control room, the door to which is blocked by storage bins and piles of laundry. Cutting the power immediately makes the electrical box stop buzzing.
As you exit the garage and send your firefighter to search the upstairs for signs of fire, the Battalion Chief calls on the tactical channel and asks for a report and if the entire alarm assignment needs to continue, they have another fire call nearby and could use the units. The engine you passed at the store is now arriving on scene and the officer is listening to the radio dispatch for the other fire.

What is your report and decision about additional resources? You make the call.

Seat at the Table Ep15 – San Bruno Cont’d

Our discussion with Dan Gerrard, Bobby Halton and Jow Telles continues in our special look at building relationships in Emergency Response.

Whether a Chief Officer or Probationary Member, all can learn from this discussion, have a look.

Seat at the Table Success

We had a great day of filming yesterday in San Jose with disaster experts gathered to attend the Tak-Response conference which ends today.

Even though we have not yet found a sponsor to cover the expenses, this opportunity was too important to let pass.

The conference has been a lot of fun, with Thaddeus, Natalie, Jeremiah and Sam Bradley begin_of_the_skype_highlighting     end_of_the_skype_highlighting, the extended Chronicles family, all except Mark.
For a new conference in a new place with a new concept I think it did very well.

I think Kelly Greyson would have enjoyed the shooting simulator side by side with some of the SWAT folks on hand at the show.
And the law enforcement members we did meet were interested not only in what we were doing, but marveling at the wide array of equipment EMS carries, not just a bag and a cot.

Just the show floor was working to break down barriers and let disciplines mingle, imagine what the speakers are inspiring.

The audio difficulties in the filming of the Seat at the Table are well known, but finding a solution we can afford on a negative budget is difficult. We’re trying, I promise.

Today it’s back to the conference with the meetup tonight at Gordon Beirsch Brewery. See you there?

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

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

Explosion hits close to home

As you all know by now a community in the Bay Area City of San Bruno was rocked by a pipeline explosion around 6:45 PM local time.

I first learned about it via twitter, of all things, and immediately went to the news.  There was no coverage yet, so we listened to our radios and heard early reports of an explosion.

Then the tweets started to mention a plane crash and word spread quickly.  As the news began to show aerial shots it was clear from first glance there had not been a plane crash, nor a gas station on fire, as some residents were reporting.  Clearly one of the methods of coping with the complete destruction of your neighborhood by fire is to think of something you saw in a movie.

As we watched on TV from the firehouse, the SFFD responded an entire alarm assignment to assist in what was going to be a full night of firefighting.

Many communities came together as one force for good today.  City, Town, State and Federal teams, as well as private contractors from the local utilities, ambulance companies and certainly law enforcement and highway patrol all had their own duties, but to see how quickly resources were being mobilized made my head spin.

On twitter, I’m suddenly being RT’d (Retweeted) by folks from outside the area trying to get news.

I was asked what kind of plane crashed and if the gas station was still burning.

As fast as resources gathered to confront the gas pipeline explosion and aftermath, rumors and RTs of RTs were spreading half truths and guesses from all over the world.

Indeed the first images and descriptions came via social media, but we must remember to take into account who is giving us the information and where they may have come by it.

It is easy to hit that retweet button when you see something neat, but when it includes information that can not be confirmed or does not cite a reference, confusion can mount.

As I’m writing this at the firehouse, we still have 3 engines, 2 trucks and a Battalion Chief at the scene.  We were listening to the channel for awhile and even heard the crash truck from the nearby airport report they were full with 4500 gallons and ready to help.

I’ll be passing along what information I have, but am very interested to meet some of the responders at next week’s Tak Response Conference.  Imagine a conference specifically about inter-agency co-operation and training happening so close to such an event.  The information fresh in the minds of all persons involved will be an amazing learning opportunity for us all.

If I can, I want to get some of them a Seat at the Table on Wednesday the 15th and get their side of what happened.

Stay safe,


Gearing up for Tak Response

Over the next few weeks you’ll be hearing from me about the Tak Response Conference in San Jose coming up September 14th-16th.

Chronicles of EMS was invited to be a part of this collaborative training opportunity that will bring the best of all fields together to network and learn from each other.

This conference combines nursing, Fire, Haz-Mat, law enforcement, SWAT, EMS, public works and a number of other disciplines together, since when we all arrive on scene we have to work together.

Let’s start to train together.

Tak Response is not only a chance to learn from other disciplines where you fit in at “their” scene, but to network socially with your fellow providers before the you know what hits you know where.

Imagine a scene where the Battalion Chief, Patrol Officer and EMT all already know each other and what each agency expects from the others.  That’s a smooth running scene.

Here’s the episode of Seat at the Table where we meet the organizers of the Tak Response Conference and run the concept by paramedics, firefighters and even a cop.

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.


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,


Happy Hour on Firefighter Netcast

Tuesday night at 6pm Pacific time I’ll be taking over the Firefighter Netcast show LIVE on blogtalk radio.  You can call in at  (347) 327-9920  and join the chat room at the link below.

Listen to internet radio with FirefighterNetCast on Blog Talk Radio

As is usual with the Happy Hour Show I’ve got a few things I want to talk about so I’m taking over.

Some topics discussed may include:

PPV fans

Crew size

Officer experience

Rural vs Urban and many many more.  But since it’s a live call in show, YOU can ask me about what you want to talk about.

See you on the radio!