Rescue workers gather near a damaged apartment complex after a nearby fertilizer plant exploded, April 17, 2013, in West, Texas.
Photo credit: AP Photo/ Waco Tribune Herald, Rod Aydelotte
As the news continues to come in from West, Texas, we stand by waiting for the inevitable. No one understands the loss of life and when first responders lay down their lives, it hits us all hard.
From the Boylston area of Boston to the small town of West, one thing is for certain in this Jumpseatrider's mind: the first responders are ready!
Understanding how and why may not be known for days, or weeks, but we all should take the time to mourn while learning. These two incidents happened thousands of miles apart, but they both should have us focused on our district. We all have similar issues in our towns whether big or small.
How anyone could harm the folks coming out to support loved ones is not in the realm of comprehension to this Jumpseat rider. Most of us protect events like the Boston Marathon, big and small. From hometown fairs to large gatherings of thousands, we should be prepared for the unexpected. Triage, containment, and readiness should be maintained by every first responder. Just like in Boston, when duty calls there are those who run towards those in need and those who run away.
As a front line first responder, take the time to review your policies for mass casualty calls and be aware that it does not need to be downtown in a big town, it may happen downtown in your town.
This incident hits home to us here in West Virginia. I live in an area with lots of industry and we suffered the loss of a community member a few years back in an explosion. it was not quite as big as what happened in West, but it is still as devastating. Working with and around industry is something we have grown accustomed to here and we all should spend some time developing a working relationship with the industry members in and around our areas. When most of the incidents at these facilities happen they will require lots of help and it just might be you that is called to assist.
Pre-fire planning with the facility will allow us to prepare for the challenges faced when entering their world. Industrial response is not like structural firefighting and needs adjusted on all levels. Master streams, different levels of PPE, and exposure protection are but a few of the adjustments needed when entering an industrial complex. Take the time to build a working relationship with your industry to make sure everyone is on the same page.
For Those Who Rush In
Without a doubt, this has been a tough week for my fellow first responders. When one hurts, we all hurt and we all are hurting now for certain. Let's all take a moment to say a prayer for the fallen in Boston and West, Texas. We should vow to find the cause, celebrate their lives, and prepare ourselves for the next time someone is called to rush in. It may be you or me! There are those chosen people who run towards danger, these are the people that I can proudly call a Brother or Sister!
Be safe and God Bless the first responders.