If if Looks Vacant...Smells Vacant....Is it Vacant?

 When does it seem like you have seen it all in the fire-EMS service? How deplorable can the conditions that people live in get?


I often wonder this as we stumble through another place that is so disgusting that a dog shouldn't be living in it, just to find one, if not many, humans living in it! Wow is all you can say when you walk in. But what can you say when you roll up on it and it looks vacant....smells vacant...is it vacant?


The answer in today's culture is simple, no! Every house, apartment, and boarded up business is occupied until you find otherwise. With the number of homeless people on the rise and people searching for a roof over their head, many find this in boarded up structures. Looks can be deceiving when it comes to buildings that are occupied and people cover their windows and entryways with lumber instead of replacing windows and doors. This can give us the look of a vacant while the reality is an occupied structure.


Often we come upon this very situation. So how do we prepare for these type situations? One opinion is to use the dreaded EMS calls to get into a pre-plan mode. While accessing patients and after treating them, take time to look around. Boarded up windows, means of egress, and number of occupants are all things we should look for.


The interior conditions and possible dangers, such as large fire loads, holes or weakened floors and the like, should also be in the front of your mind. The most important part of this assessment is to share the info with your department!


Who knows, someday it might look vacant, smell vacant, and all of a sudden it's not vacant!


Keep up the good work and thanks for visiting the jumpseat!