1. #1
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    Default Responding to another state or county....

    The question I have concerns responding to an incident either in another county where you do not have a set mutual aid agreement or into another state. Let me explain…….

    There have been a few situations in the past year or so where either fire or medical assistance was requested in another county or in another state. I live in Vicksburg, Mississippi and Madison Parish Louisiana is to our west (Mississippi River runs to the west of the city and once you cross the “Mississippi river bridge” you go into Louisiana). The Vicksburg Fire Department also provides the ALS ambulance service for the entire county. A few times the ambulance service and the fire service have been called upon by agencies in Louisiana to assist by either sending an ambulance or a fire crew to an incident. Majority of the time the request is denied but I do recall times many years ago where an ambulance was sent to major car accidents and so forth. Also there have been a few times where there have been incidents that have occurred right at or near the county line (Issaquena County to the north, Hinds County to the east and Claiborne County to the south). The calls would come into our 911 center and the caller could not advise weather the incident was in our county or in the neighboring county. We would then dispatch units in the direction of the incident until it was determined the exact location of the incident (usually when the first deputy would get on scene). Usually if it is determined that it is in the other county the responding the ambulance (which is VFD) will cancel their response and we would then have to call that county to get their EMS going.

    My question is what can happen as far as liability, insurance and license issues if an ambulance, fire crew or any other emergency personal respond to an incident within another state or into a county where there is no “set mutual aid agreement”? I have heard mixed answers and just curious as to what the real story is.

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    What a mess, huh? Wish it was easy to sort out.

    As far as EMS. Check with the agency that issues your EMS certification/license. I have been involved in county agencies that issue the EMS certification/license and it only allowed you to practice within that county and I have been involved in state agencies where you could practice anywhere in the state. So ask them, they should know.

    Same thing for fire. Check with the state fire marshal's office. Some already have mutual aid agreements where a department could piggyback. Usually, when dealing with fire, the lack of a signed mutual aid agreement would not prevent an agency from verbally requesting help during a fire.

    Don't confuse medical mutual aid with fire mutual aid, they are different when it comes to legal liability and other things. In order to minimize the liability, you or your chief officers should move forward and try to establish mutual aid agreements ASAP. Also, you may want to seek the advice of an attorney.

    I might think of more once I wake up and the coffee kicks in.

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    We travel mutual aid into our next County fairly often. We are also the first due FAST response for a couple departments in the next County.

    Haven't yet worried about County lines as far as responding when requested...and won't.

    Your requested for assistance...you are covered.

    And to get that super warm fuzzy feeling....write an agreement between your agency and those that are calling you. Really not a big deal.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    I agree with what CrnkB8 said 100%.

    Kevin, One thing to kept in mind is that you mention the mutual aid is denied the majority of the time (and it appears all the time as of late). We are a fire service that relies on mutual/automatic aide. You may need their help desperately someday for whatever reason, and they may say no!!

    Just a thought.
    A Fire Chief has ONLY 1 JOB and that's to take care of his fireman. EVERYTHING else falls under this.

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    A quite wise chief I once worked under said "just do what's best for those who may need our help, we'll worry about what jurisdiction we're in later." So we would continue into the next county a ways if we didn't drive upon the wreck in our county, or go to the smoke if we could see it across the county line, etc.
    Granted, that may not be the way to look at it in this day of dodging the "L" word, but it is the way it should be.

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    Check your state laws and those of LA. Alabama law covers us responding into other counties and state EMS rules address units from other states responding into Alabama. I'd be surprised if Mississippi doesn't cover the issue too.

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    Thumbs up Well..........

    Liability Be Damned. Yeah, I said it, so sue me. I went to the same School as Admiral David Farragut (Damn the Torpedos, Full Speed Ahead) so my tolerance for the "L" word is Zero. I once told an Attorney that He was not telling us what we could do, we were advising him of what we were doing, and that his job was to defend us no matter what, or seek employment elsewhere. Room got quiet for a while..........

    We do not hesitate for a split second at any kind of Political Boundary, they simply do not exist in the Fire/Rescue world here. If we're dispatched for a call and find that it is in the next County, (I'm also a "Fence Sitter" running to a County Line to the East.) our Dispatch Center notifies them that we're there, they can do what they want, join us or stay home. And they do the same. Two sides of our County border on Virginia, and Washington DC. Same Story. We run each others calls hour by hour, with the sheer Volume of stuff happening here. Last night, a Large Farmhouse (Yep, still have some) South of my District burned. Initial Dispatch brought units from Three Counties. Job got done, no problems. We are all operating like one big Fire Department covering the entire Mid Atlantic region, we all run together and work together all the time, we simply don't allow anything to get in the way of providing help to whoever needs it.

    Last. We NEVER refuse a Call. Period. There are a few Chief Officers out there who are no longer serving in their former roles because they tried to refuse service.
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    We run Mutual Aid into another county and another Country... yes Canada. In 1970 we had a huge fire before there were aid agreements and Departments came to help us and worried about things later. Less complicated times....(I was 3yrs old)...

    We try to make sure that all the behind the scenes agreements are there and the documentation (for border crossing) is correct and upto date. But if we are needed and can provide support (we don't have our own call(s) going on) we go. We figure out the other stuff later.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods View Post
    Liability Be Damned. Yeah, I said it, so sue me. I went to the same School as Admiral David Farragut (Damn the Torpedos, Full Speed Ahead) so my tolerance for the "L" word is Zero. I once told an Attorney that He was not telling us what we could do, we were advising him of what we were doing, and that his job was to defend us no matter what, or seek employment elsewhere. Room got quiet for a while..........

    We do not hesitate for a split second at any kind of Political Boundary, they simply do not exist in the Fire/Rescue world here. If we're dispatched for a call and find that it is in the next County, (I'm also a "Fence Sitter" running to a County Line to the East.) our Dispatch Center notifies them that we're there, they can do what they want, join us or stay home. And they do the same. Two sides of our County border on Virginia, and Washington DC. Same Story. We run each others calls hour by hour, with the sheer Volume of stuff happening here. Last night, a Large Farmhouse (Yep, still have some) South of my District burned. Initial Dispatch brought units from Three Counties. Job got done, no problems. We are all operating like one big Fire Department covering the entire Mid Atlantic region, we all run together and work together all the time, we simply don't allow anything to get in the way of providing help to whoever needs it.

    Last. We NEVER refuse a Call. Period. There are a few Chief Officers out there who are no longer serving in their former roles because they tried to refuse service.
    Well Dang it Harve, you must have a few genes running around Alberta. Here a county line is on a map, same as a city boundary. Out Lloydminster way, they cross provincial boundaries at will. Theres not a snowballs chance in hades that anyone here would even consider a map line when responding to an emergency

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    Refusing a call? Geez, we take any oportunity possible to play with the big red trucks. If Marthas Vineyard needs our help, I'll drive the engine through two states and get on the ferry if the need us that bad.

    The way I see it there are two choices...
    (1) Let someone die
    (2) Do our job and figure out how to fill out the paperwork later.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  11. #11
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    Default Way to Go, HARVE!!

    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods View Post
    Liability Be Damned. Yeah, I said it, so sue me. I went to the same School as Admiral David Farragut (Damn the Torpedos, Full Speed Ahead) so my tolerance for the "L" word is Zero. I once told an Attorney that He was not telling us what we could do, we were advising him of what we were doing, and that his job was to defend us no matter what, or seek employment elsewhere. Room got quiet for a while..........
    I wish more people today had that kind of attitude! I have crossed city county and state boundaries on many occasions and with one exception didn't even slow down! I think it is a case of better to ask forgiveness than permisssion. In my mind refusing to provide service is unforgiveable! I had to do it once and it left a bitter taste in my mouth that has lasted over thirty years, I won't do it again if I have a choice!
    Mark Zanghetti
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    Goshen Fire Dept.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrnkB8 View Post
    As far as EMS. Check with the agency that issues your EMS certification/license. I have been involved in county agencies that issue the EMS certification/license and it only allowed you to practice within that county and I have been involved in state agencies where you could practice anywhere in the state. So ask them, they should know.
    Out of curiosity........

    I've worked for a few EMS agencies in my time that have routinely done non-emergency transports into or from locations (both in state and out of state) outside of the county in which the service is licensed at. I've responded (mutual aid wise) to 911 calls outside the county in which my service is licensed at. I've also transported 911 patients to hospitals outside of the county that my service is licensed at. This is also a common practice for many EMS agencies where I'm at currently. Maybe it's a PA thing, but there is no issue with doing so here that I'm aware of.

    How does this work in the places you've referred to? Do services in similar circumstances just hand off the patient at the county or state lines or just stop providing care at that point?

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    When in doubt do whats right.

    You are more likely to get in trouble if there is a bad outcome because you turned around two minutes away so that the other department could drive 15 minutes to get there.

    Heart attacks, car accidents and structure fires don't care where the boundaries are.

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    Wink Yea or Nay?

    In my opinion when there is a question of jurisdiction, or where there is no written agreement specifically allowing me to go where I am actually needed, I find that in most cases it is far better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission. In other words, ALWAYS respond to help the guy that dialed 911.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods View Post
    Liability Be Damned. Yeah, I said it, so sue me. I went to the same School as Admiral David Farragut (Damn the Torpedos, Full Speed Ahead) so my tolerance for the "L" word is Zero. I once told an Attorney that He was not telling us what we could do, we were advising him of what we were doing, and that his job was to defend us no matter what, or seek employment elsewhere. Room got quiet for a while..........

    We do not hesitate for a split second at any kind of Political Boundary, they simply do not exist in the Fire/Rescue world here. If we're dispatched for a call and find that it is in the next County, (I'm also a "Fence Sitter" running to a County Line to the East.) our Dispatch Center notifies them that we're there, they can do what they want, join us or stay home. And they do the same. Two sides of our County border on Virginia, and Washington DC. Same Story. We run each others calls hour by hour, with the sheer Volume of stuff happening here. Last night, a Large Farmhouse (Yep, still have some) South of my District burned. Initial Dispatch brought units from Three Counties. Job got done, no problems. We are all operating like one big Fire Department covering the entire Mid Atlantic region, we all run together and work together all the time, we simply don't allow anything to get in the way of providing help to whoever needs it.

    Last. We NEVER refuse a Call. Period. There are a few Chief Officers out there who are no longer serving in their former roles because they tried to refuse service.
    Damn straight. I have run calls in all direction and even two counties over. Run in to DC, Maryland, etc. Ran a mutual aid into Alexandria and worked with PG county when we got there. This all in the last five years. 9/11 there was a West Virginia Ladder Company called to the Pentagon for a truck that would fit into the courtyard.....
    Be for Peace, but don't be for the Enemy!
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    Quote Originally Posted by nyckftbl View Post
    LOL....dont you people have anything else to do besides b*tch about our b*tching?

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    Does anyone have a story where responding to a mutual aid incident without a pre-agreement lead to a liability problem?
    Be for Peace, but don't be for the Enemy!
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    Quote Originally Posted by nyckftbl View Post
    LOL....dont you people have anything else to do besides b*tch about our b*tching?

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    Default Mutual Aid

    Here is the situation that my department has run into for providing mutual aid (and no, I am not making this up!)

    1. To the north (one mile north of us is the boundary) the fire district there refuses to allow us to enter their district, even though we are 10+ miles closer to their south and southwestern part of their fire district. In fact, a former chief of that district sent us a letter stating "that we will be arrested by the Sheriff's Department if we respond to any of their fires". I have that letter filed away in our file cabinet. Talk about cooperation there!.

    2. To the east, there is no fire district, but a volunteer city department "covers" it. They show up with alcoholic beverages (I have been offered a beer at a fire!) and primarily use high pressure reels for structure fires. They even have high pressure reels mounted on their overloaded water truck. We respond to this area east of us with the rural pumper for "threat to the loss of life" fires only (vehicle accidents, structure fires, etc.) About 1 1/2 years ago, I talked on the phone with the fire chief of this city FD and told him my concerns about their use of alcoholic beverages at the scene of fires. He twice replied on the phone, in that same converstation, "If I want to drink a beer at a fire, that none of your business". I cringe whenever we respond to incidents with them. Some of this area is in the same township that we are in and our fire protection arrangement is with our township, since there is no organized fire district.

    3. To the south, the fire district there is somewhat disorganized so we send the rural pumper into that district to help whenever we can.

    4. To the west (across the county line) we work well with the fire district there. We are closer to part of their outlying district and they welcome us to respond on automatic aid. We send the rural pumper into their district without hesitation.

    5. There is a career FD nearby and they are very professional. If we need anything, they help. The fire chief there encourages us to "stay with it", despite the politics.

    While fire protection should be based on fire protection principles, some departments operate on a political agenda. It is the right thing to provide fire protection services to the general public, too bad some FD's will not do that.

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    This is the mechanism that allowed my department and a few others (and a few dozen local and state police to drive from NJ to New Orleans a few years ago and help.

    Doesn't really apply to the day-to-day stuff...but I bet most of you didn't know it existed.

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    Thumbs up Huh??..........

    Quote Originally Posted by DennisTheMenace View Post
    Damn straight. I have run calls in all direction and even two counties over. Run in to DC, Maryland, etc. Ran a mutual aid into Alexandria and worked with PG county when we got there. This all in the last five years. 9/11 there was a West Virginia Ladder Company called to the Pentagon for a truck that would fit into the courtyard.....

    The Truck that Finally made it thru the Tunnel was Frederick County, Maryland's Truck 16 from the Woodsboro VFD about 10 miles north of Frederick, and about 12 miles from the National Fire Academy (They're 4th due Truck at the NFA) Truck 16 then was a Early 50s "B" model Mack with a Midship mounted 75 ft Ladder. Woodsboro bought the Truck around 1980 from Waynesboro, Pa. who bought it new. Story was Waynesboro had the Truck built a bit lower in overall height so it would fit in an OLD Station. I'm a Life Member of the Graceham VFD which is Woodsboro's Mutual Aid Neighbor to the Northwest. (Mom's Family is all from there) ............
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods View Post
    The Truck that Finally made it thru the Tunnel was Frederick County, Maryland's Truck 16 from the Woodsboro VFD about 10 miles north of Frederick, and about 12 miles from the National Fire Academy (They're 4th due Truck at the NFA) Truck 16 then was a Early 50s "B" model Mack with a Midship mounted 75 ft Ladder. Woodsboro bought the Truck around 1980 from Waynesboro, Pa. who bought it new. Story was Waynesboro had the Truck built a bit lower in overall height so it would fit in an OLD Station. I'm a Life Member of the Graceham VFD which is Woodsboro's Mutual Aid Neighbor to the Northwest. (Mom's Family is all from there) ............
    Thanks Chief for the clarification!
    You know the Pentagon walls inside the court yard were found to be 80 or 90 feet tall once they got Truck 16 in there. The final solution was taking a sawz-all to ACFD Truck 5's tiller cab.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireMedic049 View Post
    Out of curiosity........

    I've worked for a few EMS agencies in my time that have routinely done non-emergency transports into or from locations (both in state and out of state) outside of the county in which the service is licensed at. I've responded (mutual aid wise) to 911 calls outside the county in which my service is licensed at. I've also transported 911 patients to hospitals outside of the county that my service is licensed at. This is also a common practice for many EMS agencies where I'm at currently. Maybe it's a PA thing, but there is no issue with doing so here that I'm aware of.

    How does this work in the places you've referred to? Do services in similar circumstances just hand off the patient at the county or state lines or just stop providing care at that point?
    Here are the questions I posed to one agency:

    I am certified as an EMT with your county agency. If there was a mass casualty bus accident on the opposite side of the state line and that agency requests mutual aid, would I be allowed to render care outside of this county/state?

    Also, if I transported a patient (non emergency) from a medical facility within this county to a medical facility outside of this county, is this within my certification and scope?

    Here is the response I got:

    1. You are not allowed to provide any patient care unless licensed with a permitted agency. Therefore, unless you are working for a permitted agency, there is now way you should or would be requested to respond to a mutual aid request, and if you did you would be working without a license which is not permitted.
    2. Also, you should not be transporting a patient anywhere unless you are licensed and working for a transport agency. If you work for a medi-car type service then you are providing non medical transport and are not working as a certified medical person. If that is the case there is no need for a certification or a scope of practice.


    By the looks of it, even though I'm certified by the county health district, in order for me to render care, I must work for a licensed care provider (i.e. ambulance company or fire dept.). Since you are from the Keystone State, I thought the PA Dept of Health licensed/certified it's EMT's & EMT-P's and county lines shouldn't come into play?

    On another note (as some have stated), if an agency requests mutual aid, by all means, honor that request. Do not let someone suffer because of boundary lines. Take care of the emergency at hand and work out the details later. On the other hand, using the "better to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission" card only works so many times. If you have in the past or there is a chance that you may respond outside of your jurisdiction, let the chief's work out the details so you can do your job without anything getting in your way or hindering you.

    I'll go back to my original reply, don't confuse mutual aid requests for fire with mutual aid requests for medical. They can be different. If you really want an answer, you need to ask the agency that issues your certification/license.

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    No jury in the world will hang a fire department or firefighter who regardless of jurisdiction, tried to use their training and skills to make the the situation better, "what a reasonable person" would do.
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    Default Mutual Aid

    I served on a department for nine years (two as Chief) that was located on a state boundary and an International boundary (Canada). Part of our fire protection boundaries went into the adjoining state.

    We had a written mutual agreement to assist one FD in Canada. At the time, the US Customs/Border Patrol had a written policy to let us cross back and forth through the border to respond to emergencies. The policy was setup for our benefit and worked well. The Canadian department worked well with us and we assisted them for mutual aid fires, as well as conducted joint training sessions with them. We had their Canadian fire frequency on our radios for communication. The only hangup was the Canadian side had different hose threads than us. On our side, we used four(!) different hose threads. Of course, adapters were carried on the trucks.

    As far as responding into another state, we had written contracts to provide fire protection to two cities and two townships in this adjoining state. At the time, we did not have the same radio frequencies with the 911 dispatcher or other FD's in that county.

    Five things that I would recommend before responding outside your fire protection boundaries:

    1. If at all possible, have your legal counsel draw up a written mutual/automatic aid agreement with whatever jurisdiction (city, fire district, etc.) that you want to cooperate with. Having a written agreement
    "cements" in a formal arrangement.

    2. Ensure that your department's liability insurance coverage carrier and workers compensation carrier will insure you if you leave your jurisdiction. This is especially important if you enter another state or country, for an emergency response.

    3. Ensure that you have the compatible hose threads for the hydrants, hose and pumper connections for those departments you are going to assist. If not, look at obtaining adapters.

    4. Ensure you have the radio fire frequencies for the jurisdictions that you are responding, too. This is important when responding into another state or country.

    5. Ensure you have left adequate backup manpower and apparatus in your jurisdiction, in case a fire breaks out while you are "out of town". You were assigned an ISO rating and the insurance companies expect the firefighting apparatus, equipment and manpower to be able to respond to fires in your jurisdiction, when the need arises.

    With careful planning, arrangements to send and recieve mutual/automatic aid can be beneficial to the fire protection needs of your community, regardless of political boundaries.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinFFVFD View Post
    The question I have concerns responding to an incident either in another county where you do not have a set mutual aid agreement or into another state. Let me explain…….

    There have been a few situations in the past year or so where either fire or medical assistance was requested in another county or in another state. I live in Vicksburg, Mississippi and Madison Parish Louisiana is to our west (Mississippi River runs to the west of the city and once you cross the “Mississippi river bridge” you go into Louisiana). The Vicksburg Fire Department also provides the ALS ambulance service for the entire county. A few times the ambulance service and the fire service have been called upon by agencies in Louisiana to assist by either sending an ambulance or a fire crew to an incident. Majority of the time the request is denied but I do recall times many years ago where an ambulance was sent to major car accidents and so forth. Also there have been a few times where there have been incidents that have occurred right at or near the county line (Issaquena County to the north, Hinds County to the east and Claiborne County to the south). The calls would come into our 911 center and the caller could not advise weather the incident was in our county or in the neighboring county. We would then dispatch units in the direction of the incident until it was determined the exact location of the incident (usually when the first deputy would get on scene). Usually if it is determined that it is in the other county the responding the ambulance (which is VFD) will cancel their response and we would then have to call that county to get their EMS going.

    My question is what can happen as far as liability, insurance and license issues if an ambulance, fire crew or any other emergency personal respond to an incident within another state or into a county where there is no “set mutual aid agreement”? I have heard mixed answers and just curious as to what the real story is.






    You need if you don't already have one is a mutual aid agreement with the counties around you and the states which you may respond too. I think that you may be crossing the Mississippi into Louisiana.

    I have attached the generic Virginia Mutual Aid Agreement. It can be used as it or modified to fit your needs.

    Don't leave home without it!

    All the Virginia department operate under this and can be called to any part if the state is needed.

    http://www.vdh.state.va.us/OEMS/File...mutualAidB.pdf
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    In my former job, we did both emergency and non-emergency transports throughout the state of LA and into TX, ARK, NM, MS, AL and OK.

    On rare occasions we went as far north as CO, MO and KY.

    On more than one occasion, while returning empty, we stopped in many of those states and rendered care at MVAs we ran into.

    We never had an issue.

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