FIRE CHIEF MIKE MYERS Las Vegas, NV, Fire & Rescue Department

MIKE MYERS was sworn in as chief of the Las Vegas Fire & Rescue Department on Jan. 19, 2011. He commands 18 fire stations and more than 650 employees, who provide fire suppression, emergency medical services, hazardous materials incidents, bomb squad and...


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Las Vegas Fire & Rescue utilizes a performance-based management process focused on high performance in the critical areas of our business. Every area of our business is broken down and key performance measures are developed to help managers monitor the efficiency and output of the operation. Dispatchers, firefighters, company officers, inspectors, protection engineers, mechanics and inventory control staff are all included in managing the performance goals for their area. We report these monthly in a general staff meeting and quarterly to the city management team.

 

Firehouse: How do you get feedback from the members assigned to the various units in the field, communications and shops and keep the lines of communication open?

Myers: Organizational-wide communication is always difficult and is one of the more difficult tasks facing any executive staff. Obviously, it starts with a well-thought-out organizational command structure that balances supervisor span of control. Next, the organization, from the top down, must build an environment of creativity and innovation that is department wide and involves every team member from every pay grade.

Our philosophy is simple: No matter who you are or where you work within the organization, we believe the idea that will help us change how we do business is out there and someone will be able to present it in a manner that we understand. We need everyone thinking on how we can improve and it is more likely that a communications specialist who answers 911 calls every day for a living is more likely to have an idea on how we can improve their area of business then the executive who supervises the area.

We sit with our staff regularly. I personally visit the fire stations and sit at the table to hear what the main issues are; many times I address them with a phone call while I’m there. Communication is an active mannerism, not reactive. We seek input, ask for ideas, talk openly and passionately about topics and create the environment of communication. Successful organizations have communicators as managers and leaders who seek out input continually.

 

Firehouse: Your dispatch operation annually sends out 350,000 calls in an 8,000-square-mile area. How do you provide such service and how does technology play into it? Has automatic aid, the computer sending the closest unit despite jurisdiction, worked well?

Myers: Technology has had an enormous impact on how we operate our communications center; however, I believe we also have the very best communications specialists as well. Together, technology and talent put us at the top of our game. Dispatch centers are hard places to manage. The specialists who work in these units work a tremendous amount of hours and handle thousands of calls and get very little feedback in return. Performance measures for call taking, dispatching and overall call processing are stringent and each specialist is responsible for their own personal performance goal. We use real-time dashboards to support this and provide state-of-the-art communication equipment to augment our service. We even track how fast data runs along the fiber optic lines to each firehouse.

We service all of the Clark County and North Las Vegas fire departments as well as our own City of Las Vegas, which means we need a global approach to dispatching the closest unit. We all work within an automatic-aid agreement with our neighbors and we have been successful with unit standardization, strategy and tactic standardization and incident command standardization. Using a computer-aided dispatch system and global positioning on our units, we are able to send the closest resource to any call regardless of jurisdictional responsibility. It is seamless and has been working well here in Las Vegas for many years.

 

Firehouse: What innovations has the department made to keep up with the growing demand of providing the best in EMS?

Myers: We are proud of how far Las Vegas Fire & Rescue has come with our delivery of EMS. We continue to innovate and create new ways to provide our service. One of our primary areas of focus has been on improving survival from sudden cardiac arrest. We believe strongly that combating the problem of poor cardiac arrest survival rates takes a community approach. Using the Cardiac Registry to Enhance Survival (CARES) registry as our measurement tool, we work continually on measuring and strengthening each of the five links in the AHA (American Heart Association) Chain of Survival.