- For the MAYDAY call to be completed it must be received by someone in communications, then communications must repeat back to the firefighter the information reported. This is the only way the person calling the MAYDAY will know their message was received correctly.
- The hands free feature of the radio is useful, but if the mike is turned facing the firefighter's coat the message will become muffled.
- The firefighter must speak loudly, clearly, and distinctly to be heard and understood.
- If LUNAR is not the normal day to day communications sequence for talking on the radio it may not come naturally to firefighters under MAYDAY conditions.
- In some cases the radio EIB did not reset correctly. The next time the EIB was pushed the three beeps sounded indicating the open mike was on but there was no transmission.
- It was learned that AACOFD communications could reactivate the captured channel and open the mike for an additional 20-seconds and repeat opening it as needed.
- The AACOFD is working on purchasing user-friendly firefighting gloves. This will help in using the radio.
- Situational awareness can be compromised very quickly in a zero visibility environment.
- The fact that you decided to call a MAYDAY can tax your higher cognitive thinking, like where you are and what you are doing, which are important facts for the RIC.
Calling a MAYDAY is a complicated cognitive, affective, and psychomotor skill set that relies on a radio and the communication system, both human and hardware, that gets the call for help. A failure in any component part of this system can be disastrous. We need to study, test, train, and drill the entire MAYDAY Calling system if we expect it to work when we need it.
First, practice calling MAYDAY. Can you push the EIB in 5 seconds with all you gear on? What happens when you push the EIB? (Does the radio channel change, who receives the EIB signal, where is it received, what do they do with the information?) Can you get to the radio when you are covered with debris? Where does the mike need to be so you can be heard? How loudly do you need to talk?
Second, include MAYDAY calling as a subset drill in all training where firefighters are put into simulated IDLH conditions. At a minimum, in rookie school and throughout their service, firefighters need to practice calling Mayday as often, if not more then, they practice-tying knots. Our bodies and minds need to be shocked into MAYDAY parameters repeatedly so the correct response becomes natural and instantaneous.
Third, get communications involved. How many times do dispatchers practice receiving and responding to a MAYDAY call? You do not want your real MAYDAY call to be the first time the radio operator gets to test their MAYDAY skills, radio equipment EIB function, and MAYDAY procedures.
Finally, whether you are the rookie firefighter or fire chief, if you put on SCBA and enter IDLH environments, you need to drill on "Calling a MAYDAY."
Authors Note: After the pilot deliver of the drill in Battalion 6, the department moved the class to the county fire-training academy. Chief Berry was assigned to conduct the drill for the entire department. As of the end of June 2004, all 700 career and 300 active volunteer personnel in the Anne Arundel County Fire Department had gone through this "Calling a MAYDAY Drill". Congratulations to the first fire department in the nation to do so.
- Clark, B.A. (2001) "Mayday Mayday Mayday: Do firefighters know when to call it?" Firehouse.com
- Clark, B.A.; Auch, S; Angulo, R, (2002) "When would you call Mayday Mayday Mayday?" Firehouse.com
- Clark, B.A (2003) "We have permission to call Mayday" Firehouse.com
- Clark, B.A.; Angulo, R.; Auch, S. (June 2003) "You must call Mayday for RIT to work: Will you?" Fire Engineering p35-39