Politics and Tactics with Frank Ricci, Anthony Avillo and Chris Pepler

Politics and Tactics with Frank Ricci, Anthony Avillo and Chris Pepler

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

It is My Knowledge and You Can’t Have It

It is My Knowledge and You Can’t Have It
By Justin McCarthy & Frank Ricci

During our time in the fire service we have served in every type of department, small combination as a volunteer, very small career to urban. We have witnessed a disconcerning trend we like to call mutual jealousy, (Justin McCarthy) Being the son of a retired Assistant Chief set out to learn as much as he could and as fast as he could. He picked brains and often times went out on my own to learn things by any means necessary whether classroom or apparatus floor.

Learning is the key to growth. Gradually, as expected, certain people became reliable sources of information. Some could be called on at any minute to explain something, ANYTHING, but there were also those who did not want to be bothered. Some individuals who knew it, but did not care if you did. They seem to view sharing knowledge as a threat. Throughout our careers we learned the value of building those around us. April is here and FDIC is the place where there are no egos or "mutual jealousy." We all benefit when we share what we know and learn from others. 

The fire service attracts the type of individual who is always willing to help the public. However there are often times we are not willing to ask for help for ourselves. We want our crew to be the very best, yet we can all recall witnessing or being a part of belittling someone because they made a mistake. We have all heard the old timer ask "what is wrong with these new kids” and “don’t these kids have any common sense?” But these are the same people who are making it hard to ask for knowledge; We just do not get it.

If your the old timer it is time to use your skills to mentor that new firefighter. On the other end of the spectrum why do some accomplished firefighters and officer continue to be intimidated by other knowledgeable firefighters and officers, shouldn't the standard be, is this member going to pull me out when something goes wrong?

 Now please do not get me wrong, we love little hazing and think a certain amount of “ribbing” is part of our culture, a culture we love. Note fire house antics should never involve any form of discrimination or effect any fire house equipment.

Some of these older guys are forgetting that they did not learn everything they know in the training academy when they started. So what is the fear? From talking to people of different generations it seems as if it is just that, fear. Fear that those “in the know.”

These people fear someone could be better than them when the time comes. These people fear that they won’t be turned to in a pinch. That is ridiculous! This is a team sport, we have seen some amazing things done during our tenure and so far I haven’t seen one person alone doing everything at a scene.

We need to accept that we are only as strong as our weakest link. When one person is expecting everyone to “just know” they create problems in an already hectic environment. Expectations should be clear and directions should be minimal on scene since this is no time to be teaching and getting frustrated with the crew. We do not raise to meet expectations we fall to our level of training. So get out and train.

Assuming we are all thinking of someone we know who fits this M.O. realize if you cannot think of someone it may be you. We must all encourage each other. Everyone on a crew brings SOMETHING to the table and this is what needs to be maximized, it could be a background in carpentry or a hobby in boating, any info can be utilized in what we do.

Firefighters need to stand up and take responsibility to mentor our new members and each other. All our skills are perishable! Our service and cummunity can all benefit from helping each other.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Engine Company EMS and Diligence

Know your Equipment 
By: FF/P Robert Balkun, FF/P Tom Corrone, and Lt. Frank Ricci City of New Haven Fire Department

Failure to be aware of your service’s medical capabilities and equipment can lead to a reduced quality of care in respect to cardiac arrest care in pediatric patients.

In departments that provide both basic and advanced life support services, personnel need to remain aware of the differences in equipment when delivering electrical defibrillation to pediatric patients.

Most AED manufacturers now make both pads for ALS and BLS. These BLS pediatric AED cables can be easily confused with pediatric therapy electrodes for ALS care. To the left are AED pediatric cables manufactured by Physiocontrol.

AED pediatric electrodes have a built in resistor in the cables, reducing the amount of joules provided from an adult setting (typically 200J) to an dosage appropriate for a pediatric patient; cables for ALS monitors like the Lifepak 15’s do not have this built-in resistor.
Defibrillation electrical settings are weight-based for pediatric patients in reference to advanced care, allowing ALS providers to change defibrillation settings via their monitor to the correct amount therefore not requiring this resistor in the cables.

On the packages to these therapy cables, it does state these ALS cables should not be utilized on AED’s, but if providers are not aware of the differences, this can be easily missed.

Refer to your services EMS director and/or local protocols for recommendations and how this may affect care in your service area.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Funeral for a friend and questions for you:

From Fire Engineering:
Photo by Pete Santos
Funeral for a friend and questions for you:  

Six to eight firefighters will be chosen to carry the casket of our friend. Any less we would be absurd even in ideal conditions. They will have to bear the weight of the member, endure environmental conditions and possibly negotiate stairs. 

It is likely that the family will select a command officer from your department to oversee the funeral. This solemn responsibility may include choosing the pallbearers.

If told by the grieving widow that she only wanted two pallbearers the department liaison would not hesitate to explain the necessity of a full complement. They would advocate for what is in the best interest of the department and the family.

Incredibly, At this point we are all in agreement. So why would the same command officer fail the living, fail our communities and fail our families without rebuke?

If it takes a minimum of six to carry a casket in ideal conditions, how can our leaders justify a Rapid Intervention Team of two firefighters or only sending one company to the highway. How can they justify responding to a house fire with three floors with less than twenty-four firefighters or responding to a commercial fire with the same response as a house fire?

The fact is they can’t. They have succumbed to social norms placing us all at risk. They use banter at the table and complain about budget cuts, the mayor, policy, damaging equipment, city council or the size of their department. All these arguments fall short.

We all seem to be in agreement that IAFF, Metro Chiefs and the IAFC should continue their work on staffing. However at the same time we handcuff them.  Our efforts on a national level will fail if we don’t demand the proper response at home.

We have determined who the enemy is. It is ourselves! We have done more with less creating a new minimum standard. I have long stated, “There is no Politian on scene that says you can’t call for the help you need to keep your firefighters safe.”

You have the power to pick up the radio and call for resources. You have the power to stand apart and become part of the solution. We all have the training, knowledge and experience to justify our actions. You have the responsibility to lead.

Are you the leader who would have two firefighters carry a coffin that requires six?

Failure to lead is easy to recognize. Take a look at the following eight questions and conduct your own self-evaluation and than try to justify your actions to a widow or the court.

 1.  Will you ensure your RIT is staffed with at least four and replaced them when utilized?
 2.  Will you strike a 2nd based off potential of a commercial structure fire?
 3. Will you request an additional company to assist you in getting a 2 ½ line in place for any commercial structure regardless how light the smoke is?
4.   Will you ask for another company to get your line in place if help is needed?
5. Will you call for mutual aid for a two to three story house if less than twenty-four firefighters are on the assignment?
6. Will you call for an additional piece of apparatus if traffic is moving to protect the scene on the highway?
7.Will you call for a second if all your resources are working and no reserves are on scene?
8.   Would you advocate to a widow that only two or three firefighters should carry the coffin our friend?

A common leadership axiom tells us to “wear your rank” accepting responsibility for your position and your members is the first step. Most of the eight issues can be addressed by a simple request on the radio.

Everyone I know would love to come to your fire. It is who we are and what we do. Every role needs to be filled to guarantee our safety. It is easier to pick up the radio than bear the weight of a friend at a funeral. 

Do not turn your back on your responsibility. To learn more check out the last half of this months radio show