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My name is Pete and I am a student at Notre Dame doing research for my classes on how first responders operate.  I wanted to ask a few questions about your work.  This includes all police, fire-emergency, military, etc.  

1.  Is there anything you wish you had or had more of when heading into an unfamiliar situation?

2.  Do you face difficulties communicating when in the field? 

3.  Do you feel like anything from a tech perspective that is limiting you ability to do your job? 

4.  Are there any practices in your department that feel outdated or need updating? 

Any feedback is appreciated.  If you would like to answer just a couple or even just one of the questions above I would love any input you might have.  

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Hey Pete, what classes are you taking? 

Hi Rachel, 

This is for a design class where we are focusing on improving operations/technology in public service spaces-- including first responders! 

Good questions Pete. I only have a few years experience (Fire-Engine Company) but I do have some thoughts. For me in the beginning it seemed like we had way too many things on the rig. As I acclimated to the job my entire take changed. I went from always grabbing the pick axe to the Halligan/Irons as my go to tool unless I was the one pulling the handline. Eventually I made sure to bring the TIC along with the sniffer on gas leak calls, just in case. Coming off the rig for medicals always meant the aid bag, O2, and defib, just in case and I still felt like "I hope we have enough." 
Technology is great for the job. Radios alone are a huge edge for the folks on scene. They give each company a means to coordinate onscene and with dispatch if more resources are needed.
Anyway, these are my thoughts.

Thanks Will, 

Just as a follow-up, I'm curious specifically about your job as a firemen. When you are responding to a call, do you feel like you have enough information about the situation you're responding to? 

we only get whatever information dispatch has and that is subject to the caller being calm enough to provide details. When the tones drop we get general info like Structure Fire, Sickness, Lift Assist, Vehicle Fire etc. Additional notes would be available to the OIC over the CAD. So we never have enough information in my opinion. We could get called out for shortness of breath/difficulty breathing and end up with a gas leak.

1.)   Yes, Hallways that may have reflective paint on the floor moulding so when we come into a dark smokey area we can find our way in and then out again, when using a flashlight. True there are times when this will not help but it's in the back of your head that this is there. More information if possible from dispatch in the way of Fire Plans of the Structure, I know our homes are private but shut offs for gas , electric would be helpful. I worked on a Air Base and was in-charge of the Base Fire plans for the fire dept. as I was a firefighter so that little extra was good, hydrant locations and how much I am going to get out of it.

2.) Communications is a big thing on scene, with radio communications inside structures and outside as to what the Chief needs and wants. Radio communications is a big thing I say as for example the 9-1-1 disaster fire, the men/women inside had no clue what was going on outside as there radio's were not working properly there for many firefighters did not hear the call telling them to get out. So there has to be better communications in that respect, with all the steel structures this is going to happer comms inside and outside. Someone needs to come up with a better radio or something. Communications on the fireground sometime are bad enough outside also.

3.) Better Radio's and Infrared cameras would be great to help location of personnel still in the structure(s), I want to say Communications is a big thing.

4.) Me being on a Military Base and being a civilian firefighter we did training on a daily basis in many different areas , so most of our training and others were pretty much up-to-date.

Hope this helps.

Bob Allard

Reflective paint is a great idea Bob! There should be a universal call for reflective caps on hydrants as well.

Thanks Bob, do you have any personal stories dealing with communications difficulties? 

I really appreciate your feedback.  


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