|April 24, 2003
STRIKE THE BOX....and......but...but...but.....THEY'RE
This is a two part story..actually, two different stories. One effects YOU and the other MAY effect you...actually, you may not give a damn about either...it all depends.
STRIKE THE BOX:
If you have been in the fire service more than 15 minutes, you know that the term "STRIKE THE BOX" or "PULL THE BOX" means a working fire. Yeah, I know, in YOUR TOWN you say something different...ok, you are right. Yep-it COULD mean something else. Actually, if you look at it, "STRIKE THE BOX" could mean to ELIMINATE something...such as a BOX.
I spoke with some close and trusted Federal friends yesterday and they shared with me that the NEW HOMELAND SECURITY DEPARTMENT has an ORGANIZATIONAL CHART that is drawn in a series of boxes.
Now...let's take a quick second and play
WHERE'S WALDO!? Yeah-you know, where you work like hell to find the little
bastid who is HIDDEN in the picture? Like most of you, I was diagnosed
years ago with Super-Advanced A.D.D. so I have about 2 minutes of patience
for stuff like that. Anyway-our friend said that he spent MORE than just
a few minutes reviewing the new HOMELAND
Is that a problem? Is the WORD FIRE a big
deal? Well SURE it is. FIRE is still a PROBLEM is this Country and yeah-I
know-sprinkler EVERYTHING and we won't have as big a problem...but YOU
try and get stuff sprinklered...yeah
I also know that the FED's tell us that we, the so called American Fire Service "Have To Get Coordinated, Speak In One Voice, Play Better With Each Other" etc etc. I heard it personally at FDIC. And we agree...however, THAT will happen as soon as the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT sets the EXAMPLE for us amongst all of THEIR various groups and factions. Let's not forget the FINE job that the FBI did with the CIA-9/11. Ask anyone who knows, how "everyone" is doing as far as getting coordinated, speaking to each other, playing better with each other etc. with the NEW Homeland Security Dept. Yeah-exactly. Looks like one big Fire Department!
Does all that make it right? Nope. Should all of the above, including us get it together? Absolutely. But let's face reality. It ain't happening tomorrow. We are getting pushed under the carpet...we are being "hidden" (like a Crazy Uncle) in the basement and we are being ignored.
Since the FIRE SERVICE won't be speaking as ONE VOICE anytime soon...WHY? Easy answer! All those in charge of the little voices wanna BE THE BIG VOICE! Who is gonna get to be the BIG voice? Call me when ya find out.
The reality right now is that YOU need to take a minute and call YOUR FEDERAL REPS and do some LOCAL kicking and screaming. The Grand Old Man of Washington, Tip O'Neill said that "ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL " and we probably have a better chance of:
right-do it YOURSELF!
But...But.......THEY'RE DEAD ANYWAY!!!!
This a QUICK but CRITICAL item. We have said for years how important the role of your FIRE COMMUNICATIONS CENTER & 9-1-1 is, as far as the SUCCESS for your agency.
This is an example of how no matter HOW GOOD your fire/rescue/EMS etc is...if the DISPATCH CENTER is not a critical, high priority part of the overall PLAN by "those in charge" (bosses, elected officials etc) to deliver service, you will soon discover your weakest link.
We have good knowledge and history with
this particular operation. We know that they are NOT funded well in salary,
training and management. Quite typical, the DISPATCHERS are asked to do
lots with very little. Sometimes the public suffers, sometimes firefighter,
cops or EMT's suffer. But then again, if the people needing the help are
DEAD anyway--it really isn't a big deal,
Firefighters, Cops and EMS folks continually
have issues with their communications centers. Sometimes it's valid and
sometimes it's just bs whining. But in most cases that we have looked at,
it comes down to a few important items such as:
...and that is just a sampling of numerous critical items that MUST be considered, if you truly want to be able to COUNT ON your dispatch center to be as "good" as you agency considers itself to be. What would happen in your community? Could this happen? Now's the time to check it out and prevent it. Like alotta stuff...it's just how BADLY you (and "they") want it to work.
The Bradenon Herald
"Yes, we messed up, but it turns out they were dead anyway, so it didn't really matter."
That's the shocking rationalization by the Manatee County Emergency Communications Center for a series of errors that resulted in a half-hour delay in an ambulance reaching the victims of an automobile crash April 13 on the Cortez Bridge. We don't know which is worse, the actual foul-ups that caused the delay or the blasé attitude about it. No sweeping changes will be made and no discipline will be handed out, said Lt. Larry Leinhauser, spokesman for the county's Department of Public Safety.
It would seem that a mishandled call to
an accident of this nature - a double fatality on one of only two bridges
to Anna Maria Island - cries out for both sweeping changes in procedures
for dispatching ambulances and discipline of ECC personnel who botched
the calls. The center's own investigation showed that "multiple factors"
contributed to the mishandled emergency. But "it
That is not much consolation to citizens
who depend on the ECC to speedily get an ambulance to an accident scene.
Unless two green trainees were on duty that Sunday, it's hard to understand
the "miscommunication" between the dispatchers who took separate calls
on the crash. By Leinhauser's own admission the bridge tender gave "a pretty
darn clear picture" of the tragedy
There is nothing ambiguous about that call.
Yet the dispatcher failed to convey the correct information to an ambulance
crew and also logged the wrong time in for the call. When ECC received
another 911 call from another witness, a second dispatcher misinterpreted
the report as being only a disabled vehicle on the bridge. They tried to
check with the bridge tender by
That's at least five errors in the crucial first minutes after a horrendous accident, but the ECC report concludes there were no "glaring errors." What would it take to be "glaring" - the Three Stooges strangling each other with the phone cords?
Relatives of the victims may find small comfort in the fact that their loved ones didn't suffer while awaiting medical care because the impact killed them instantly. For liability reasons, Manatee County may be extremely fortunate that that was the conclusion of the medical examiner.
But what about the next time? What assurance
does any Manatee County citizen have that, if he or she needed an ambulance
fast, there wouldn't be "miscommunications" that caused needless delay?
Certainly, human error is going to occur because of the simple fact that
humans aren't perfect. And perhaps this was simply an unfortunate and rare
series of such errors. But if