Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tactical Safety: S.O.P.-Saving Our People

“The Fire Service’s Weekly Safety Column!”

By: Ray McCormack

Tactical Safety examines the process of firefighting to see if there is a better and safer way to operate.

SOP – Saving Our People

Saving someone implies that the person needs dramatic assistance so as to remove them from a threat or danger; they require rescue. What does saving our people mean? Some would point to: OSHA’s two-in-two-out; rapid intervention teams; safety officers; command and accountability; these are all components of saving our people, our firefighters. How do we save our other people, the civilians?

They are the first group that needs assistance when the call comes in. We arrive, assemble, and decide what actions are necessary to save our people from the event that has placed them on the endangered list. When we arrive, we assemble the necessary components of our priorities in order of need, so that saving our people has the highest chance of success. Deciding upon the plan may be straight forward, or require a unique deviation; however the goal is always noble, saving our people.

We do not always know that our operations will add another name into the saved column but we consciously focus our efforts in that direction. Sometimes we are kindly rewarded, and in others, our discovery and removal worked, but still required a component no firefighter can bring along with them: life. These people were found by firefighters’ efforts, but life could not be returned.

The effort to save our people is never in vain. Firefighters save people and firefighters save firefighters. When we examine the training and equipment dedicated to firefighter rescue, we should see a mirror image of that effort dedicated to civilian rescue.

Our people do not know our names, our rank, or positions on the fireground; they can not call out their “mayday,” all they know is the trust they have placed in us is universal and binding: to save them when called upon. We try with great effort to fulfill the highest of missions: saving our people.

We do not ask the rescuer for reckless disregard, nor do we encourage it. We do ask for effort commensurate within the limits presented, and call upon extraordinary skill and knowledge to process and execute the ‘saving of our people.’

When we apply tactical safety to rescue efforts, we use all we have learned; we understand both limits, opportunity, and work to overcome the limits by creating opportunity. Rescue is dependant upon ‘seizing the moment,’ moment-recognition comes to those who examine, weigh, and decide that the time is right, and the opportunity window is still open.

Rescue attempts are not always successful, and sometimes become rescues of their own; however, this is not the norm. Allowing exceptions to rule our efforts is flawed; a rescue decision needs be made based on the current event.

Our people know us by the many things we do: from educating, prevention, and multi-task delivery, but our people need to hear about how we save them as well. This is what they truly want from us; this is what they expect from us; and this is what only we provide. Firefighters save people, a message we rarely campaign around, but at the end of the day it is the reality that keeps us in demand and in high-esteem.

Next Tactical Safety – Kneeling Down

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