This week, I once again head to Florida's beautiful west coast to the city of Ft. Myers, where I will be attending, for the third year, the 2019 edition of the Great Florida Fire School. The first year, the Volunteer Program Coordinator, Capt. Joe DeVito of the Ft. Myers Fire Protection District, invited me to attend, take some photos, videos, sound bites and even record a podcast. And that kept me quite busy.
However, it was only towards the end of our time there, that Joe told me the real reason he had invited me...he knew my fire service background and long-standing connection to it, even some 30 years, after I had had to give it up due to an injury, and had invited me to "part of the gang" again. Boy! Did he ever get that one right. Having been forced by the injury to give up fire suppression, I had been re-assigned to Fire Police and then, Fire Inspector. I accepted the changes and did my jobs well. Yet, I stilled missed the "good ol' days," when I was in the midst of the heat and mayhem.
We soon made a couple of moves, first to Florida, then New Jersey and finally, back to Florida once again in 1990. In those years, I kept up my trade journal subscriptions and my scanners tuned to the action. With the explosion of social media several years ago, I made a foray into several, to promote our company, Dalmatian Productions, and the pilot script for a fire-themed dramatic series (this was even before "Chicago Fire" or "9-1-1"). Capt. DeVito found me floundering on Twitter and became a mentor to guide me to more firefighters and vice-versa. A couple of years later, it was his idea for me to start a podcast. And here we are.
Last year though, Joe pitched me a curve ball. In June of 2018, he called and told me he wanted me to teach at the 2018 Great Florida Fire School. After I questioned his sanity in asking me, who had been out of active fire service for over 35 years, to be an instructor, I asked him what did he expect me to teach. "Something you're passionate about," was his answer. And he knew that that answer would be all I'd need.
When I started the podcast, its mission statement was for firefighter health, wellness and fitness for duty. It didn't take long for that statement to be lengthened to include the Cancer and Behavioral Health Initiatives. And that statement was the foundation for the presentation, "The Elephant in the Firehouse: When Ego Gets in the Way of Passion" or "Why do the rescuers fail to rescue themselves." And though I had but four students, teaching this class led me to receiving my Florida State Fire Instructor's certification.
This week, I will still be running around shooting photos, videos and catching sound bites. We'll be recording another episode of "Tactics on Tap," and I will be presenting again, with a few changes here and there. I'm looking forward to it.
And I'm looking forward to "hanging" with my brothers and sisters, too!
Stay Safe & Stay Well!
We are pleased to provide you with this information received this weekend. Please be sure to listen to the "MY VIEW" segment of Episode 4-7 of "5-Alarm Task Force" being released on Monday, September 23, 2019! We will need your help to get this legislation passed!
We are beyond grateful for this legislation introduced Friday, September 20th by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) with bipartisan support from Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) specific to the PFAS in our turnout gear.
As you will see in the announcement below, Senator Shaheen has been a fierce and relentless fighter for PFAS studies and testing for firefighters since learning of the amounts of PFAS in our gear in June 2018..
In the coming weeks we will see the results of Dr Peaslee's study on a near 20 year span of turnout gear, both new and used. I have seen the shocking of this study. There is no doubt in my mind the fire service must be warned, educated, tested, monitored and protected.
Without this funding we will not secure the studies required to understand the health effects of wearing the toxic soup of PFOA a known carcinogen, PFOS, a known carcinogen,as well other PFAS in staggering amounts.
We have no alternatives at this time. Imagine being the firefighter who will reach for his/her PPE knowing they are immediately exposing themselves to the staggering amounts of PFOA that is in their new, never-worn and their used turnout gear. There is no other occupation in the nation whereby this is acceptable.
We are also seeking NFPA 'Fast Track' a PFAS protocol that not only educates firefighters about the PFAS in their gear, but requires manufacturers to find alternatives to PFAS used in firefighter turnout gear.
We are seeking your support in asking that Congress approve the NDAA which will designate PFAS as a hazardous substance. This will expedite the replacement coatings in our gear, as well as ensure safe disposal of the textiles like turnout gear, and fund cleanup of the many PFAS contaminated military and non-military locations across the nation.
Please also share this interview with Senator Shaheen from WMUR as she discusses her bill, and Paul and I discuss the need for action.
This week, September 11th falls on a Wednesday. However, to most of us who were alive and are old enough to remember the horror and tragedy of that day, the date of “September 11, 2001” will always be etched in our minds as a Tuesday. A Tuesday that we will never, ever forget. For those of us who are/were firefighters, the date carries a powerful sting, such that hearing someone say the date, often gives us pause.
This national tragedy affects the families of nearly three-thousand innocent victims, from many nationalities and from all walks of life. I know a couple from South Florida and normalcy has never fully returned to their lives.
That morning, I was working in an office for Dalmatian Productions that I was sharing from a friend. I always had a police/fire scanner on my desk, and I heard members of Ft. Lauderdale Fire talking about an accident in NYC – a small plane was believed to have hit one of the World Trade Center towers. I ran into the editing area and rolled out a big, (for then) 27” TV and, after adjusting the antenna, picked up a local station that was rebroadcasting the feed from CNN. One look and I knew this was no small plane.
Within a relatively short time, the first video of the first jet striking the tower was played on TV screens around the country and probably, around the world. As soon as I saw that video, I knew our lives were about to change. Back then, I had been out of the active fire service for nearly sixteen years, due to an injury. However, everything I had learned about flammable liquid fires and multi-story commercial buildings came flooding back to me.
My late friend, who was from Long Island, asked me how I thought the FDNY would fight the fire. I told him, “I don’t think they can,” and my stomach tightened as I told him that. For I knew, that our brothers would go into that building, not to quench the fire, but to rescue as many people as possible. And just as that thought was uttered to him, the second plane hit the second tower. Now, there was no doubt, no unknown. This was an attack on the United State of America, as was Pearl Harbor.
As I sit here writing this entry, tears already fall from my eyes. Over the years of our friendship, I had shared many of my experiences as a firefighter with my friend and how we accomplished many of the tasks we had had to do on this call or that call. One of those stories dealt with reading smoke, specifically, the changing colors of smoke and what it often meant. I returned to the editing room to check something I had been working on, when my friend called out, “Come here, Steve. I think they ARE getting water on the fire; I can see white steam!”
I rushed back over to the TV and to my horror, I saw and explained what was really happening. “That’s not steam! That’s concrete dust! The building is collapsing!!”
“No!” he screamed out, but it was true. In a trembling voice he asked, “Do you think they made it?”
“No. They couldn’t escape. They may not even knew what was happening until it was too late,” I explained.
“You mean…” his voice trailed off.
“Yes,” I replied. “I would say that we just lost hundreds of firefighters and civilians, maybe even into the thousands.” We both began to weep.
I pulled my chair around and sat there, watching. What could I do? I had to do something. These were my brothers…men that I ridden with once, who welcomed me like family. I had to be able to do something to help. And it was during this though process that we watched the second tower fall. Being a firefighter, I realized something even worse had happened, because shortly before this occurred, the network had shown a shot of the FDNY’s command center, outside the two towers. The Chief of Department and a multitude of other officers were instantly killed in the first collapse.
“My God,” I said. “We just lost at least five hundred FDNY firefighters!” Thankfully, though that estimate was too high, when we add in our brothers and sisters from the NYPD and Port-Authority, plus the volunteers who had poured in from outside the city, volunteers from fire departments on Long Island and Westchester County, my “guesstimate” was so far off.
My friend turned to me, his eyes red, “What are YOU going to do?”
“I’m going to try and get to New York!” I replied.
“What? Why? You can’t fight fire anymore!”
I thought a second and said, “You’re right. I can’t. But I can help the survivors and others. They’re going to need administrative help. People are going to look for their relatives and friends. That means lots of computers and data work. I may not wear bunker gear anymore, but I can create databases and help that way. Anything with computers I can help with.” As it happened, my wife and daughters forbade me to head north. Though disappointed in their response, I certainly understood it. So, I thought of something else.
“I’m outta here,” I told him as I was heading out the door.
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“I’m heading over to the blood bank in town. I’ll bet they’ll be jammed. I’ll donate a pint first, then help them get ready. Come by when you can.”
When I arrived at the Blood Center, there was only one other person there and two technicians. They hadn’t heard much, and I filled them in. I asked them to get me started quickly, because we had a lot of prep to do. They looked at me cross-eyed. I said, “In just a little while, you’re going to have tens, if not hundreds of people here to donate blood, whether you’re ready for them or not. I can’t do any venipunctures anymore, but I’ll do the registration and vitals. You’d better make that call right now.”
One of young women took me over to a lounge and got me started while the other called the main office and explained what I said. While she was still on the phone and I was still trying to fill my bag, people began to show up.
“What are we gonna do,” the one with me asked of her co-worker. Her co-worker, still on the phone, held her finger up to advise the young lady to wait as she finished the call. When she hung up, she turned and said, “He’s right! We have to get ready and they’re sending a couple of more techs over.”
I was soon finished and gulped down my can of juice and ate my peanut-butter crackers. And then I grabbed clipboard, a couple of legal pads and grabbed by stethoscope and BP cuff from my BLS rescue bag in my vehicle. That was around 1:00 PM.
We finally closed the door to the blood bank at 10:00 PM. We had started to close at 9:00 PM, but people in line still wanted to donate, so we accepted them, but closed for anyone else that evening. I believe we collected over sixty pints that day and I promised them I’d be back first thing in the morning.
Wednesday morning, I arrived a bit early and found a semi from one of the warehouse stores in the community, who came to drop off bottles of water, cans and pouches of juices and boxes and boxes of snacks. Oh…and no bill.
That day, we opened at 9:00 AM and worked until 10:00 PM. Though the early and later parts of the day were busy, the mid-afternoon was slow in comparison, but people did keep coming.
Thursday morning, another semi was waiting in the parking lot. This time from one of the grocery stores. Same type of delivery.
It was around 2 o’clock, I think, that word was received that few survivors had been found to that point and they did not expect the blood that had been collected around the country, would be needed in NYC. That news stung, hard! We (and so many others) had worked so hard to be able to help. And truth be told, we did. All the blood that we had collected was able to be kept in the community to serve the needs here. And the same held true for most of the country.
Nevertheless, those days brought the American people together like they had not been since World War II. We were truly, “One nation, under God, indivisible…” It didn’t matter if one was a Republican or Democrat, African American, Caucasian, Italian or Polish; we were ONE country, UNITED together by this tragedy, at least for a little while.
I pray for all those we lost on that day. I pray for those who worked the pile for days, weeks and months and paid the ultimate price for their dedication. And I pray that it will not take another tragedy like 9/11 to do again.
Photo Courtesy of g2law.com
If you're a first responder, you know what you're looking at. Per the law firm's website where this photo came from, this accident was caused by a driver who was texting. Texting is but one activity that takes a driver's concentration (and eyesight) away from the roadway.
Over the past two decades or so, between the manufacturing of cars and pickups with excellent soundproofing and first-class Dolby 5.1 audio with top-of-the-line speakers and the explosion of social media apps available on our cell phones, many drivers no longer hear our sirens or air horns until our apparatus are nearly on top of them. And not only do they no longer hear us, even with the latest and greatest red, white, blue, yellow and green emergency lights, they don't see us either, as they are too busy reading and/or texting on social media. This is a proven deadly formula!
When I started in the fire service in 1977, we would occasionally be behind elderly drivers who didn't hear our sirens, not due to the manufacturing process, but simply because they were hearing impaired. However, when we were close enough and hit the "Grovers," they would suddenly realize we were behind them and finally, pull over. And to think that back then, when we still mounted the speakers for electronic sirens on the roofs of police and fire vehicles, they still, all too often, could not hear them if their windows were "rolled up." (electric windows were still somewhat of a luxury!
Today, we can multiply the problem one-hundred-fold, for it is not just that their ears that don't hear us, but there eyes no longer see us, as they are focused on the cellphone in their hands. Our good friend and colleague, Ryan Pennington taught us that we can learn if there is a good chance we have a "hoarding home" if you look at their yard. If they hoard in the house, there's a good chance you can see some of the same in the yard. Let's apply that line of thinking to distracted drivers - if you see a vehicle in the passing lane on the highway traveling 35 MPH, you probably have a distracted driver.
They are the ones, traveling slowly, as they steer the vehicle with the pinky finger of one hand, while holding the phone with both hands and texting or simply typing something with both thumbs! Just driving on an errand yesterday morning, I actually had a young female driving her car in the passing lane of a local road, while holding her phone and typing as described above. The road is a local three-lane roadway on each side with a speed limit of 40 MPH. When I wound up behind her, I was stuck at around 28 MPH. When I was able to move to the middle lane and honked my horn as I passed her, she looked at me, raised both hands in the air with palms up as if to say, "WHAT??? Doesn't everybody do this?"
The problem is that too many people are doing that and sadly, much worse. Those are the drivers, who hit other cars, injuring and killing the innocent and, killing First Responders who are on the roads responding to an emergency. Perhaps worse, the National Safety Council reported on April 3rd of this year, that according to the Emergency Responder Safety Institute, 71% of U.S. drivers take a picture of emergency vehicles on the side of the road, responding to an emergency or even, making a routine traffic stop. Worse still, 16% – more than 1 in 10 – said they either have struck or nearly struck a first responder or emergency vehicle stopped on or near the road. In spite of all this, 89% of drivers say they believe distracted motorists are a major source of risk to first responders. (National Safety Council website - April 3, 2019)
Listen, there is no magic pill that is going to stop this trend. However, knowing who/what our "enemy" is/does, allows us to learn from these incidents and increase and /or change the training we are doing, in a strong effort to protect all First Responders who have or are responding to an emergency on an active roadway.
To this end, "5-Alarm Task Force" has scheduled a special panel podcast dealing with this topic and its ramifications for First Responders. The podcast is scheduled to be recorded on Monday, May 13th. My guests will be Chief Billy Goldfeder, Chief Victor Conley, Chief Anthony Correia, Chief Brian Soller and Mr. Steve Austin, one of the founders of the Emergency Responder Safety Institute.
We will discuss this problem in vivid detail. Chief Conley nearly lost four firefighters when a tractor-trailer struck their brand-new till truck, acting as the "blocker on the scene of an emergency on an active roadway. The tiller was completely destroyed, and it took about a year for the four firefighters to recover from their serious injuries and return to work.
It is our hope that you will listen to this podcast and to my guests who all have too much experience with this issue. There will be discussions with information to help you help your own department with this issue.
Whether you live in a big city or in a rural area, if there are motorists in your response district, you may have already had this type of emergency and dealt with it in your own way. However, this podcast will bring you the shared wisdom of my guests that we hope you will take back to your own department and share the podcast and its information with your chiefs and other officers.
This podcast is dedicated in memory of every First Responder who has lost his/her life to a distracted driver. May their memories always be for a blessing.
The podcast should be released on Monday, May 20th. Please watch for it, listen to it and share it with others, especially your line and chief officers.
More than once!
Stay Safe & Stay Well!
In a version of "tooting your own horn," I've decided to add a blog entry upon the release of each new podcast. Here we are, finishing up our third year, with over 150 podcasts completed and released. It's a milestone I had never envisioned. My sincere appreciation to all my guests and to all my listeners, for with out you, "5-Alarm Task Force," would not exist.
Monday - April 29th For Episode 3-44, my guests are twin brothers, Christian and Sam Adams of Colorado Springs CO. (@fieldmedics on Instagram) They share that they initially had no interest whatsoever in EMS or firefighting. Moreover, they admit that they really had no idea of what EMT's or paramedics actually do. However, when a friend of Chris told him that he was going into an EMT class and explained a little about it, Chris decided that it sounded challenging and he decided to take the class, too. His brother, Sam, was not too far behind him!
You will hear about their early experiences in para-transit after they had earned their EMT status. Most of us might see refer to that work as "slug calls," but not these brothers! They believe that this job provided them with a foundation on which they would build their very successful careers that they have today.
They recently released their first book, "Life and Death Matters." (View their entry on our Guest Page for a link to their book on Amazon). It is not a technical manual on intubation or right-bundle-branch block. In fact, its more of a guide to help you keep your true task in focus by maintaining your humanity and compassion. In today's social media jungle with its almost impenetrable anonymity and filled with bullies and trolls, this book is a fresh air that many of us need.
I hope you enjoy this podcast and, as always, please feel free to leave a comment.
Stay Safe & Stay Well!
I wish what I am about to write about could be brushed away as an April Fool's joke. However, it is all too real in the world of First Responders. And though we often think of First Responders as members of of only fire, EMS and law enforcement agencies, it also includes "recovery operators," better known as tow-truck drivers.
Unless you've had your head stuck in the inner cavity of a engine company's pump, you must be aware of the plague of First Responders who have been struck and seriously injured or killed, while operating at an emergency on an active roadway. As I write this entry, police officers from Arizona, Illinois and Wisconsin are being mourned. Were they in a firefight with a bad guy? Were they dealing with a hostage situation? Neither! They had responded to an accident scene and were struck by distracted drivers. Additionally, we have lost so many firefighters, EMT's/Paramedics and police officers over the last several months, that the website, ResponderSafety.com, (an outgrowth of the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firefighters' Association) along with the NFPA, issued an emergency declaration for Standard 1500 - Traffic Incident Management.
To be honest, I hate using the term, "distracted drivers!" It's too polite a description for these murderers. Yes, murderers. They took a life because they actively and knowingly, engaged in certain behaviors that drew their attention from driving carefully to barely being aware of what was going on around them. Whether they were DUI, kissing a partner, talking or texting on a cellphone, they made the choice to not focus their full attention on the roadway ahead of them. Thus, with wanton disregard, they have killed, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters.
And the words, "I'm sorry," just won't cut it!
As First Responders, there is not a great deal that we can do in advance, to specifically avoid that distracted driver. However, working as a team, we can work to help save lives!
"5-Alarm Task Force" has been a strong advocate for better care and protection of all first responders, who attend to emergencies on active roadways. And so far, the best protection for all appears to be a well thought-out and well-planned blocking program. Do you even know what a blocking program is?
A blocking program is one where, normally the fire service, brings a specially-rigged fire apparatus or a large, sturdy truck, that might have been headed for the scrap yard, but have been re-purposed to help protect lives.
For example, in Irving TX, under the direction of Chief Victor Conley, the Irving Fire Department, lost a ladder truck, that was acting as a blocking vehicle at an emergency on an active roadways, when it was hit at high-speed by an 18-wheeler! Four firefighters were seriously injured, but survived. The driver of the tractor-trailer was not as fortunate!
After that incident, Chief Conley studied for months to determine how a safe blocking situation could be developed. He spoke with representatives of other fire, police and EMS departments, as well as the right civilians. Several important factors became clear:
1. The blocking vehicle, while sacrificial, must be a strong and heavy motor vehicle,
2. The blocking vehicle must be parked a good distance from the initial emergency, providing lots of room for first responders to work at the scene, as a buffer,
3. The blocking vehicle must have the appropriate emergency and other lighting, striping, etc. to make it highly visible to all,
4. No equipment that would be necessary to attend to the initial emergency should be on the blocking vehicle. It should only have additional tools, such as reflective roadway cones, flares, emergency scene tape, etc. that would be used to place the vehicle and delineate a safety zone.
With all of this in mind, Chief Conley was able to "rescue" a fire apparatus that was scheduled for auction or the scrap yard. He invested in some state-of-the-art emergency lighting and setup a policy that one firefighter from the station where the vehicle would be stored, was to drive it to an emergency scene when dispatched and setup the safety zone.
Now, some might say, "We don't have a spare apparatus! What are we supposed to do?" You have to work to get your community to work together. For example, you don't have an extra apparatus that could be designated as a Blocking Vehicle. So, ask your chief to call the Public Works Department, to see if perhaps they have an old dump truck or other heavy-duty vehicle that is on its way to the scrap heap. If your municipality is dedicated to saving the lives of its First Responders, the various agencies will find a way to work together.
And while many First Responder agencies are well aware of the danger on our roadways, they are allowing red-tape, conceit and other human foibles, to get in the way of doing the right thing. Thus, it is up to each of you who reads this, to take this back to your agency. When it comes to MVC's on our roadways, they are going to continue, no matter what we do. But we can do something and that something may very well save the lives of First Responders who are on-scene. Is there anything more important than that?
On many of my podcasts and even a post or two on this blog, I have talked about a "perceived" attitude that the fire service is sometimes, slow to embrace change. But come to think of it, many non-firefighters may feel the same way. And of course, it all depends "what" is changing. For example, there are those who always want to be among the first to try or purchase the latest electronic gadget, be it a 3-inch long cell phone or a 120-inch acrylic TV screen in time for the big game. Others, are satisfied with last year's model. We each decide to accept, adapt or refuse to make changes for our own reasons.
A little over a year ago a member of the design team at the company that hosts this podcasts, asked me if I had thought about, "V-casting."
"V-casting?" I asked. "What is that?" (Me....the guy who started in A/V in the third grade! Duh!)
He explained that "V-casting" was adding a video component to a podcast and some also post that same podcast on YouTube. I told him that while it could be interesting, my guests are rarely in the studio (OK, it's the fourth bedroom in our home!) with me. It's all done either using Skype directly or dialing the guest's phone line with Skype. And he replied by telling me that the vast majority of podcasters simply recorded themselves creating their podcasts, whether their guests were with them or not.
Jump to just a couple of weeks ago when Dr. Rich Gasaway was my guest on "5-Alarm Task Force," to discuss, "Situational Awareness Matters." Now, having listened to about a half dozen of his podcasts, I knew that he was a card-carrying member of V-casters, using both Facebook and YouTube. With that, I said to myself, "Self...it might be time for you to think about adding video to your podcast tech plan. And I am writing this post to tell you that I am in the beginning steps of bringing "5-Alarm Task Force," into the "video age."
It will still be a few weeks before I start. Why? Simply because if I were to turn a camera on as this studi....I mean, room, is now, those of you who are in the fire service would probably call our good friend, Lt. Ryan Pennington, our resident expert in "heavy content" fires (aka, hoarding)! No, it's not that bad, but since it plays many roles in our home, i.e., spare bedroom, financial headquarters, guitar studio, broadband HQ, etc., it is in some disarray.
I have already begun to clear things up and with a friend, we're planning to lose this gigantic desk with two bookcases on it, for a more clean and sleek podcast platform. I am also in the process of creating a banner that will be the backdrop and that will also be used on-site, should I be lucky enough to attend a conference, where I have also been invited to record a podcast.
For now, that is the first major change that I hope to be bringing you in the not too distant future, but hopefully, it will not be the only one. There a couple more that are under consideration. I could tell you about at least one of them now.....
But then, how would I coerce you to come back to read this blog again!
Stay Safe & Stay Well!
12/31/2018 - 10:45 AM EST - I believe that for most of us, it is hard to believe that 2018 is just about finished. In just hours from now, the balls, the oranges, the triangles, the pyramids, etc., will drop down on their cables and ring in the New Year of 2019. Wow! We are just about ready to complete the second decade of the 21st Century. Where the Hell is my flying car?!?!
Flying cars and/or hovering fire apparatus or not, the new year will be hear soon. As happens every year, numerous newscasts and other television shows will conduct a review on 2018, most often in pictures. There will be photos of big events, both positive and otherwise; photos of those famous people who passed away this year, etc.
However, I submit to you that most of us can look back relatively quickly. What is truly important is, what lies ahead. What will differentiate 2019 from 2018? And I don't mean the "resolutions" that we see every year. I believe it was either last year or the year before that I saw a news story about new year's resolutions. I believe it said that less than ten-percent of resolutions are actually carried out. Not a great statistic, huh?
The fact is, that you and I can change that percentage. Instead of resolutions, set goals you wish to achieve in 2019. And make sure they are realistic goals that can be met. Let's be honest, most of you who are reading this are probably firefighters or other first responders. One thing we love to do is brag! We love to tell the story of the, "Big One," or the one where the, "...the truck blew up just as I rescue three people from the SUV..." Let's promise each other that we're going to leave the bragging out of our goal setting!
So, what goals do you want to set? Let's also leave the "lose 40 pounds in 30 days," off the list for now, as well. Here are a few ideas:
1. I plan on monitoring my health. I will have an annual physical as per the IAFC/IAFF or NVFC guidelines. I will listen to my primary care provider and will follow through on any tests he/she believes are directly connected to me as a firefighter. I will not place my department or family in a precarious position by hiding any significant medical findings from them and continuing to perform as though nothing is wrong.
2. I will learn as much as possible about the Firefighter Cancer Initiative. I will remain, "on-air," will all my turn-out gear, hood and helmet on until such time as I am clearly in the "Cold Zone" or advised by an officer that I can go, "off-air."
3. Once in the designated "Gross Decon Zone," I will remove my gear and use wipes to wipe the soot, toxins and carcinogens from my face, neck, ears, etc. I will then have follow the balance of our on-site, Gross Decon SOP's.
4. Upon returning to the station, I will do my best to "shower within the hour," and follow such procedures that will prevent me from spreading toxins and carcinogens are the station and my home.
5. I will learn about the Firefighter Behavioral Health Initiative. I will be aware of those around me, my second family. I am all too aware of the toll some of our calls take on me. Add the pressures of our personal lives today, I understand that life can be very difficult. I want to be sure that my friends, my comrades, are doing OK.
6. In a discussion, whether at the firehouse or online, I will do my best to present my side in a mature manner and not resort to vitriol, yelling and bullying on line with those who may disagree.
7. I am a firefighter (EMT/Paramedic - LEO) 24/7, whether I am in uniform or not. I will do my best to proudly represent my agency to the public.
8. As a first responder, I understand that I must continue to learn. I cannot arbitrarily "draw a line in the sand," to say, "I know what I have to. I don't need to learn any more!"
9. As a first responder, it is my obligation to be a teacher or mentor. It is important that I pass on the "tricks of the trade" to those coming up behind me, so that they will perform well.
10. I am just another person; no better or worse than the person next to me. I will remember to maintain my humility and dignity to everyone I speak with and treat them with the respect I I would expect.
To all, have a Safe, Happy, Healthy, Prosperous and Peaceful New Year!
From the last bite of turkey on Thanksgiving to the final sip of your beverage of choice on New Year's Day, this is supposed to be a season of joy and gladness. The mad rush for holiday articles, trees, Hanukkah menorahs, lights, candles, air-filled lawn decorations, etc., often help to re-direct our thoughts away from the real nitty-gritty of our every lives. However, any of you who have been a first responder through even a single holiday season will realize that all too often, the representation from above is not always the case. No matter the season, no matter the day, we respond when "invited."
For some reason, I have only recently subscribed to Chief Billy Goldfeder's, "The Secret List," and I now realize, even more than ever before, what a powerful and positive messenger Chief Goldfeder is for us. Yet, when I see a new email from "The Secret List," I often cringe with fear and uncertainty. And that has truly been the case the past couple of weeks. For while we (using the inclusive) first responders, should be able to enjoy all the excitement of the holiday season, our devoted vocation or avocation pulls us out of the mainstream to address one form of emergency or another. (BTW - if you are a subscriber, be sure to "Pass It On," to someone you work with!)
If you are a subscriber to this email, you will know of what I write; it has not been a good two-and-a half weeks for Emergency Services. The three main branches of EMS, Law Enforcement and the Fire Service, have all suffered Line-of-Duty-Deaths. Each of us has lost a comrade, a colleague, a brother and/or a sister. And in the midst of what should be a joyous time, we are forced to face the grim reality of loss.
Moreover, there is also a great body of evidence that comes out during this season, regarding how this time of the year is often very trying for some, especially though with behavioral health issues, and not for the general public alone. More recently, the American Fire Service has begun to focus on those same issues that affect many of our colleagues, not just now, but throughout the year. Sadly, the numbers do not lie. In 2017, we lost more colleagues in the fire service to suicide than to all the LODD's for that period. And now, the fire service has begun to develop a strong and positive Behavioral Health Initiative to help those members who are going through all types of turmoil and pain within their personal lives.
In my civilian life, working in Jewish synagogues and ritual life, I have to attend to too many families who have suffered a loss. Some whom I knew, other I did not, yet I cherished them just the same. As many of our Chief's and Commissioners know, it is not easy to deal with a bereaved family. It takes a strong mix of compassion, empathy, understanding and an inner "steeling of the gut," as one chief put it. We do so and we demonstrate that we are there for them and will try to guide them down this difficult path.
Let us remember all those we have lost, have loved, have worked with, have joked with, have dined with. And let us reach out to those around us to make sure that they are doing well and not masking their inner pain with a fake smile. "Tis the season. God bless us all.
I have been looking at some recent statistics for our podcasts and even after all this time, I'm still both surprised and puzzled by some of the numbers. First I'm surprised by how many listeners in foreign countries we have and how many of those countries there are. However, part of that comes from the many places where you are able to find our podcast.
Let's start at "home plate," which is our host's site. "5-Alarm Task Force" is hosted with Podomatic, Inc., located in San Francisco CA, USA. I have been with them from the start and I have been very lucky to work with two of their top people, Matt, who works in customer relations and Francisco, who is their tech specialist. With out them, neither this podcast nor this website would be what they are.
Each podcaster on Podomatic has his/her/their own page. Mine (in "longhand") is https://dalmatprod206.podomatic.com/. I've "abbreviated" it using the services of the website, Bit.ly, and thus you have, http://Bit.ly/5-AlarmTFPodcast. That address, will take to the first one, noted in the the prior sentence. So, each time one of our listeners accesses an episode using either of those URLs, it becomes a statistic on our Podomatic account.
Next, would of course be this website of ours, www.dalmatianproductions.tv. However, even though you'd be on our website, listening to our podcast, it is not recorded as an actual Podomatic visit. Instead, whether you listen to our show from the homepage or from the PODCAST page, it is counted as an "embed." An "embed" is accessing a podcast by a "player" that is embedded on someone's website; in this case, our own. However, there are some great folks out there, some who have been guests and others who just want to help spread us around, who embed our player on their own website. And we are truly thankful that they do. So, when you visit their site and listen to an episode, it is regarded the same as listening to it on our website, as an embed. That also includes when you use iTunes, Google Play, Spotify or one of the large number of podcast streaming services or "aggregators" out there. And, I've found that there are a lot more than I realized! A few months ago, I "googled" our name, "5-Alarm Task Force," and besides the few I've just mentioned, I found over a dozen more I had never heard of! But every time one of my episodes is accessed from them, it's counted in our stats!
Finally, (to keep this short and sweet), you may not be able to listen to a podcast I've just released right away, but you want to listen to it later when you're working out, walking the dog, or pretending to listen to Aunt Hazel who came for Thanksgiving and hasn't remembered to leave yet! Of course, that becomes a "download;" you save the podcast to listen to it later on. Our biggest numbers every week come from our downloads. For example, in the week from November 23rd - November 29th, we had exactly 600 downloads. That seems like a lot and for us, it certainly is. We actually average 500-600 downloads per week, in each week that I launch a new podcast. Of course, that averages around 2,000 downloads a month!
For many podcasters who sell advertising on their show (we are one, too) it used to be the number of downloads of a podcast that drove the pricing of the ads. However, more recently, instead of just looking at the downloads, folks are now talking in terms of "total accesses," per week or month." In other words, they are looking at every way that a podcast is "accessed". Thus, for the month between October 31st through November 29th, we've had nearly 4,000 total accesses to our podcasts!
So remember, you will probably find us on your favorite podcast service. However, if you want to explore, just choose your favorite search engine, type in our name and maybe you too, will be surprised where you will find your next listen to, "5-Alarm Task Force!"
Steve Greene is the president of Dalmatian Productions, Inc. and the Creator/Host of the "5-Alarm Task Force" podcast.