The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation proposes that every emergency response unit conduct an After Action Review following every response.
In this issue, we are proud to present our annual Firehouse® Magazine Heroism and Community Service Awards. Starting in the 1970s, we have been paying tribute to “the bravest of the brave,” those members who save the lives of countless people in the most precarious situations.
This year, we thank the three judges who reviewed the acts of heroism: Chief Tim Scranton of the Beverly Hills, CA, Fire Department; Deputy Fire Chief William Goldfeder of the Loveland-Symmes, OH, Fire Department; and Chief Mark McLees (ret.) of the Syracuse, NY, Fire Department. We also thank our corporate sponsors, for without their generosity this program would not be possible: Aladec Inc. Fire Manager, Alert All Corp., Amkus Rescue Systems, Blackinton, Columbia Southern University, eDispatches, Fire Station Outfitters, Liberty Art Works, New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, Phenix Technology, Waterous Co. and Waterway Franchise LLC. We also thank Paul Hashagen and Elizabeth Neroulas, who administer the program.
Occasionally, we receive comments about acts of heroism that may be considered unsafe or even reckless. Some people contend that we glorify such acts. Firefighting is a dangerous business, as we all know. As a firefighter friend tells me, “If I wanted to stay safe, I would remain in my living room.” That said, with more emphasis on personal size-up, use of full protective gear, risk-vs.-reward assessments and other programs designed for accountability and reducing freelancing, maybe the message is getting across.
Since 1978, our heroism awards program has honored individuals and units that have gone above and beyond the call of duty. We have difficult decisions to make with each application: What were the conditions? One of my closest advisors always asked what happened to the rescuer? The more descriptive the applications, the better the judges will be able to assess each act of heroism. We give the same treatment to entries submitted by a smaller department that explains a rescue in less detail as those from a large metropolitan department where there is much competition and extensive descriptions and diagrams are submitted.
If a firefighter makes a rescue in your department or area, you can go to our website to nominate that person for recognition. You don’t have to wait until the end of the year to submit an application. Those making the rescues or providing the community service can’t be recognized if they are not nominated.
In 2004, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) and U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) announced “The 16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives,” detailing “initiatives and recommendations for drastically reducing firefighter fatalities and injuries.” Recently, I attended the rollout of Initiative 13, “Firefighters and their families must have access to counseling and psychological support.” These programs, five years in the making and spearheaded by national and international leaders in the field of psychological support, make it easier for firefighters and their families to obtain help. In particular, the programs will help firefighters deal with psychological stress from the job’s routine and extraordinary events. For more information about the new behavioral health model, go to www.lifesafetyinitiatives.com.
Similarly, the NFFF proposes that every unit conduct an After Action Review (AAR) after every response. According to NFFF website, “The first step in observing stress in firefighters and EMS personnel begins at the ‘back step’ or kitchen table, where every call and response is discussed…After every training exercise, every call, every time firefighters and EMTs are performing their duties, five simple questions are asked:
1. What was our mission?
2. What went well?
3. What could have gone better?
4. What might we have done differently?
5. Who needs to know?”
For additional information about these programs, see http://flsi13.everyonegoeshome.com/after-action-review.html</a>.