1. #1
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    Default Acting at a scene out of district

    Greetings,

    Apologies if this seems a stupid question with an obvious answer. It isn't obvious to me, but that means little.

    I volunteer with the department in the area where I work (and live during the week). On the weekends, I'm about 2 hours away, in a much larger city, that has an all career department. Due to the layout of our two stations, relative to where I work and live, I carry my gear in the car, so I can respond to station 1 from home, and station 2 from work.

    This weekend, I was in the city, heading out for supper, when I came across a (very recent) MVA, where one car had rolled onto its roof. By the time I got out of the car and to the vehicle, there was a group of people trying to flip the car back onto its wheels, by rocking it, which was causing the car to collapse further, and the car was getting quite close to pinning the occupant in place (she was half out of the drivers side window). It took a bit of work, to get the group to stop rocking the vehicle, and to get them to not pull the lady out of the car (she appeared to have a neck injury, and the car was stable where it was sitting).

    In this case, I jumped out of my car and went to the scene, as I was. Nothing on my person indicating that I was a part of any fire department or that I had any training. Would I have been better to grab my turnout coat from the back seat, and throw it on? At the very least, it would signify to those at the scene that I am with a fire department, and hopefully would make things easier, in getting people to back away from the spilling gasoline, not pull the passenger by her shoulders when she has a neck injury, etc. But, when the local department shows up, would it be likely to cause problems with them; ie, would they assume impersonation, because they do not have volunteers?

    I was hoping to ask the battalion chief that showed up, as by the time I the paramedics had taken over the lady (I had bandaged her arm, and was helping with c-spine), the scene had been released to the police, and the fire department was only remaining because they were blocked in by the police vehicles. But, I only had time to introduce myself and answer his questions regarding what had happened, when they got another call, and had to leave. I may make a trip up to the station tomorrow, and see what their opinion is, but most likely I will wait until Monday, and ask the chief of the volunteer department for his opinion.

    But, I was curious as to the opinion of the internet mind, as it were. Also, if I did anything wrong, please let me know - I'm relatively new to the FD world, and just finished FF1 and first responder a couple of weeks ago.

    Thanks in advance,
    Grecko

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    I have to say that I try not to do anything if I'm out of my area, but based on your description of the scene I would have done the same thing. I can honestly say that my department has never responded to a scene and found somebody in bunker gear, who wasn't a member of the department already on scene. We have had more than our fair share of cops state "I'm on a volunteer department", then proceed to pull a hand-line and try and use it without asking.

    Here in Kansas every department is required to issue ID cards to all members. If i'm on a scene and it's not immediately apparent I'm on the department. (i.e. turnout or department t-shirt) I'll clip my id to my shirt, so that LEOs won't be tempted to tell me to get lost. I've had a state trooper tell me to take my hands off a patient and leave his scene. I responded with, "Sorry, but that ain't happening". He took offense to that and if our rescue truck hadn't shown up about two seconds later and the driver addressed me by name, I think he would have tried to arrest me.

    I have to say congrats on convincing the crowd that you know best, I always have a tough time with that regardless of whether I'm acting in an official capacity or not.

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    Yeah, the bunker gear question can go either way. A couple months ago, we had a couple days when a couple guys from the shift that had just been released witnessed an in-district accident, one moderately serious. The both called 911 and then jumped out and started to treat the PTs. They were dressed in whatever they were wearing home that day (usually short, t-shirts and sandals). Once we rolled up in our bunker gear and in FD vehicles, they handed off the scene and left. I'd say that's probably the best way. If you have someone already giving care to the PT, respectfully identify yourself and then ask what training they have. Who knows, the person pulling them out may be a trauma surgeon from the local level 1 center.

    On a personal note, if someone says they are a doctor, ask what type of doctor. We came upon a seriously active seizing patient and there was a 'doctor' on scene 'treating' them. We kind of let her run the patient until she couldn't make decisions and wasn't really doing any good. We took over care and later found out she was some sort of biomedical research doctor. No real emergency training.

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    I wouldn't necessarily put on a bunker coat but I've made it a habit over the years to keep some sort of easily identifiable jacket, traffic vest, etc. in my vehicles. (Along with a trauma box and a box of nitrile gloves in my primary vehicle.)

    I don't make it a habit of stopping at MVAs unless assistance is clearly needed but it's nice to be equipped and identifiable as a regular responder when I do. Bystanders, drivers in encroaching traffic, and first arriving PD officers respond much better to someone who they can instantly recognize as an ally rather than an impediment.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    I had an almost exact same expereince happen to me.

    I was a chief and emt in a volunteer department in the town I officially lived in. I was also a volunteer fire member in the town where my business was in which was about 80 miles away. I carried complete turnouts and a large trauma bag with me all the time. Now there is a large city that borders the second volunteer departments area and I was traveling to a business center where I had a display set up and I happen to be on my way to it. I also happen to be in a $949.00 charcoal suit and while driving observed a real time, multiple MVA in front of me. What would you do then? Stand by until rescue arrived?

    OF COURSE NOT! You respond.

    I quickly put on my helmet and actually ended up knocking out the glass to get to a unresponsive victim who went a little way down an embankment. Crawling through broken glass to get to him and unbelievably, didn't tear my thousand dollar suit.

    Now when the career fire department and ems arrived, I quickly gave them the results of my primary survey. (I think the male driver was faking being unconscious) and pointed out items that needed to be addressed immediately. (They ran and did it too).

    Soon I realized that the career responders were following my instructions probably because I was the best dressed guy wearing a fire helmet that they had ever seen. I sure have never seen it before and since. It would have been easy to assume I was an administrative officer or other related office.

    But to get back to the original thread, a doctor treats the patient in front of him regardless of race or politics. He treats Osama Bin Laden if he's in front of him. That's not to say he steps in when a doctor is already treating him.

    Emergency responders can do the same if they choose. There are laws in place protecting them if they do act as long as they are not imposing on others jurisdiction and are already on scene.
    Last edited by jam24u; 07-19-2010 at 03:55 PM. Reason: 'not' imposing on others jurisdiction

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    Quote Originally Posted by jam24u View Post
    I was the best dressed guy wearing a fire helmet that they had ever seen.
    Remember what Nando says,


    "It's not how you feel, it's how you look..."

    You Look Mahvelous
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    As a career guy, I sometimes come upon a scene off-duty. It's rare that I'l have my gear with me. If I simply announce "I'm an off-duty FF", instantly most people give me credibility. I think you could use the same, tell them you're a vol. FF, and I think a lot of people will listen. Now, I will say that in some bigger cities where the vol. thing doesn't happen (like here), people might say "so what". In which case just saying "I'm off-duty" first, they'll give you the creibilty and if pressed later, or when the scene is stabilized, explain you're a vol.


    But I also keep a department baseball cap in my truck. I can grab that and sha-zam, I'm identified. I could be any whack job who picked it up from goodwill, but people see it and will think I'm the real deal. That perception is often all that is needed, rather than an official ID or even declaring yourself.
    Opinions expressed are mine alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Philadelphia Fire Department and/or IAFF Local 22.

  8. #8
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    I don't carry anything in my car, except a zip up department sweatshirt in the trunk.

    That said, I probably wouldn't think of putting it on. Usually if you step up, speak loudly and sound like you know what you are doing, people will listen to you.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

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    Cool Stopping Off Duty

    As a career guy, I sometimes come upon a scene off-duty. It's rare that I'l have my gear with me. If I simply announce "I'm an off-duty FF", instantly most people give me credibility. I think you could use the same, tell them you're a vol. FF, and I think a lot of people will listen. Now, I will say that in some bigger cities where the vol. thing doesn't happen (like here), people might say "so what". In which case just saying "I'm off-duty" first, they'll give you the creibilty and if pressed later, or when the scene is stabilized, explain you're a vol.
    This is similar to how I handle these situations. I'll stay in traffic (if traffic control has been set-up) and when I get-up to whoever is directing traffic I'll identify myself as an Off-duty FF and ask them if anybody's hurt?

    While returning home from Texas with my family, my wife (a RN, who was an EMT) and I (Career Fire Captain Local/National EMT) came upon a roll-ever T/C that literally happened (3) cars in front of us; car parts were still flying through the air as we dogged the other cars and parked on the shoulder of the road. We stopped and rendered care since (1) Pt. was self extricated and the other needed extricating due to the damage of the vehicle. A couple of minutes later, a Vol. Fire Captain pulled-up POV and asked what I needed. He even addressed me as "Cap" which was kinda different since I didn't tell him who I was. When the 1st LEO got on scene he came up to the local Vol. FD Captain and asked him what was going on. At this point the Vol. directed him to me, and I advised him that he needed to secure and start to deal with the drugs (later we found out that there were 360 lbs of mexican marijuana) that was flung all over the place.

    Later into the incident, after the 1st ambulance arrived a "County Mounty" got uppidy with me (he had been on scene no longer than 5 mins, I had been there for about 40 mins or so) when I asked if he could get some of the lookey-loos away so that the Rescue from the FD could get into the scene. After an exchange of words and some "Verbal Judo" on my part, the request was granted and the FD went to work.

    Initially, I was pretty hot but as I was cleaning some blood that had gotten on me above my gloves I calmed down and went over to the Vol. Capt. and told him what happened just in case there was some backlash towards his Department. The outlook there is that since the Sheriff's are career they have little respect for the Vol. FD. This was different to me, since in all the areas I've worked in, LE has done their job and FD does their job.....

    The reason why I share this story is to give you a little insight on issues that you may face. Here I was 2,000 miles from home having to deal with some political fallout that I obviously had no part in..... As far as what you did for the Pt. you can never go wrong with doing what you are medically trained to do; with that being said, stay well within your medical training and only perform what you can do with your equipment at hand. Even a calming voice and holding C-spine is enough medical treatment until somebody comes that's a higher level of medical care or you get more medical equipment on scene. As far as having issues with LEOs, my advice is to not argue with a person that carries a gun..... Especially when you're new..... Emotions are good when harnessed and controlled.

    Well, I'll end this with a "good job" and give you "cudos" for handling the situation and doing what was best for your Pt.
    "Be LOUD, Be PROUD..... It just might save your can someday when goin' through an intersection!!!!!"

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  10. #10
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    I had a similar experience, before I had started volunteering with my current department I came up on a wreck moments after it happened, two possible ejections, about four cars involved and one possible pin.

    Naturally I stopped and called 911 as I did a quick check of the scene and figuring out what was going on.

    I instructed a few of the bystanders to hold bandages to some of the wounds and got one bystander with some first aide training to hold c-spine. After the first engine arrived gave them a run down of what was going on. There were enough patients that I ended up continuing to help out
    I wasn't wearing anything that identified myself as being with a fire department etc, but did identify myself as an emt.

    If I had a coat and it was nasty weather out I may put it on or at night but I don't always think that I would wear it just because I came up on a wreck.

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    Default Out of District

    Each fire department regards their response area as their "kingdom". If anyone else happens to be at the scene of a fire, rescue, MVA, medical emergency, etc. they tend to be defensive.

    Unless the jurisdiction FD knows you, then they tend to "want to know why you are there".
    Its just a natural reaction and you would probably ask the same question of anyone on scene of an emergency, in your response area.

    We are there for the patient(s). If you come across an accident and are on scene before the jurisdiction EMS is on scene, then stop and help. You can always show your EMT, etc. credentials later.

    Most EMS personnel will not have any problems if you render aid before they arrive. You probably have the same credentials that they do. Seconds count when someone is bleeding, not breathing, etc.

    On the other hand, law enforcement is a different species to deal with on the scene of an accident.

    Some states have statute(s) that deal with Good Samaritians, Obligation to Render Aid and other laws pertaining to this topic. Research and know these laws. If these laws are in effect and you know them, you can reassure yourself that stopping to help is legal.

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    A couple months ago I happened upon a single vehicle MVA right at the same time the local vol. fire dept pulled up. It was at a red light and I could see that there were only 3 guys on the truck and at least 2 patients. I grabbed a pair of gloves and my county name tag and told the OIC that I was an FF/EMT in xxxx County and would be happy to assist in patient care/C-Spine if he wanted. He told me he would appreciate the help.

    I held c-spine and actually had to tell the FF's to crib the car-- they were starting to pop the door (using a halagan) without cribbing in place. I also asked the EMT (who arrived a few minutes later) doing patient accessment to apply O2 as the elderly patient was disorientated and starting to show signs of LOC. All of this was done.

    When I was relieved from my post inside the car, one of the FF's grabbed a Hurst 32 and in his hurry hit the EMT in the knee. This of course sent her into extreme pain and it looked like I was the only one who was going to help her, which I did. I called the EMT's employer the next day to make sure they knew that the EMT was doing her job correctly and not at fault. From my accessment of the EMT, it looked like she was going to be out of work for a while and I wanted to make sure she didn't get blamed for this. BTW, I'm a firefighter first, EMT second but this was so unnecessary that it really made me mad.

    By the way, I left all of my truma gear in my car. I run QRS calls in my township so I keep my car well stocked. I didn't want my stuff to get mingled with another responders equip., especally out of county. My reasoning was that I knew other responders were on the way and If I really needed it I could have asked a bystander (there were many) to get it from my car. I now carry a BLS fanny pack with the basic things for a first response.
    FF/EMT

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    See,

    Even when we have had multiple injury events, everyone who is qualified to help is most welcome. I am very glad to see them and really appreciate it when they do. It is a relief to see a person come running up with gloves on, identifies themself and asks if they can help.

    We take them all,,,,,

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    See,

    Even when we have had multiple injury events, everyone who is qualified to help is most welcome. I am very glad to see them and really appreciate it when they do. It is a relief to see a person come running up with gloves on, identifies themself and asks if they can help.

    We take them all,,,,,
    As a C.O. I'll do the same as long as it's needed. I'll even go so far as to personally observe what the helpers skills are, if they're doing good and seem to have a good grasp then I'll tell them and leave them alone. If I see something that makes me question my decision, I'll reassign them to traffic control or something like that.
    "Be LOUD, Be PROUD..... It just might save your can someday when goin' through an intersection!!!!!"

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    I've been witness to a scuffle or two (verbally and physically) over out of area help jumping in and rendering assistance.

    It is a two headed animal...To those who are caught in the wrong place at the right time- Of course you are going to render help; just do not over extend your stay.

    To those who find "alien FFs" on your fireground/accident scene- Put yourself in their shoes; Would you provide aid? Be polite, appreciative and ask them to leave (POLITELY) if you do not wish them to assist... But for the love of God, don't bash skulls 'cuz they beat you there first... They probably don't REALLY wanna be there... They are there out of commitment to the principles of the job.
    A coward stands by and watches wrongs committed without saying a word...Any opinions expressed are purely my own and not necessarily reflective of the views of my former departments

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    Incidently, it is a whole different ball of wax between when a FF ends up on scene accidentally and a FF who intentionally "jumps" a run to be super FF and RESPONDS to a scene when he or she has not been paged or requested.

    THAT FF who responds out of juristiction with out being paged should be disciplined (preferably drawn, quartered and hung from the mast).

    There are departments in my area that allow this behaviour but by in large, it leads to contention between departments.
    A coward stands by and watches wrongs committed without saying a word...Any opinions expressed are purely my own and not necessarily reflective of the views of my former departments

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    If you have PPE, I would try and use it if it's a realistic scenario. It's for your protection. Especially if there is fuel leaking. The possibility of a fire would put you in danger and render you useless to the driver. Just my opinion. That all being said, there isn't anything wrong with what went on. Every situation is different. We just have it drilled in our heads to always were PPE. Of course I'm young and am almost finished with FF1, so I have a different view. Our instructor will flip if we don't practice the proper procedures. I see a lot of older guys and vets who act at a scene without gear and that's an issue with me. My Capt. is the only officer that always wears his PPE, no matter what the call is. Then you don't forget or get complacent and get hurt or worse. But seriously? what else could you do when people are rocking the car over, that's insane. You at least stopped them from possible killing the driver and probably would have if you spent 2 or 3 minutes putting your gear on. So, for that, you did the right thing.

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    Staying safe at a scene is paramount. Thus donning PPE or at least a traffic vest should be an automatic action.

    Going beyond being the first responder on scene and one who simply happens on the scene, in NY as a FF you really need to check in with the IC and get him/her to accept your services, at which point you're covered by the VFF Benefit Law, etc. If you don't, and get hurt, you could be on your own.

    It's not unheard of for a FF who is regularly in an area to get a letter from the chief of that district giving blanket permission to respond.

    We've had issues with overzealous FF's coming onto our scenes. Usually to the detriment of the operation.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

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    Default Helping

    If you went to any sizable group of people (church on Sunday, PTA meeting, etc.) and asked the crowd "is anyone here an EMT?", you would likely find someone medically qualified (EMS, nurse, etc.).

    Any EMS trained person at that event would jump in to assist that someone that had a medical emergency (heart attack, etc.). Its just a natural reaction. Of course, someone at the incident would call 911 to report the medical emergency and the jurisdiction EMS would respond and arrive, too.

    Anyone trained in EMS will either "jump in" at an incident where a medical emergency occurs or arrive at that incident as part of the jurisdiction EMS.

    The whole situation revolves around the patient. Lets not get too hung up on who is there first. The reason we have EMS is to provide patient care. Getting uptight over who is on the scene is not necessary. The patient is what matters.

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    This is funny you posted this, I will explain why but first let me state I think you did the right thing and kudos for getting everyone to stop what they were doing.

    The reason this is funny is because a similar incident just happened for me.

    I was actually in another state but we border the state and I work in the state where the incident occurred. I was just driving and a roll over had just happened ahead of me just before I made the turn. The car was on its top and the roof was smashed down to the point to where there was just enough room for the driver to have her head sticking out a little. The good people that stopped and came out of their homes started to pry the door. I did exactly what others have stated. I walked up and stated I was a firefighter very loudly, asked if someone had called 911 and immediately went down to the patient. Of course I did the normal stuff, asked question etc. but there was little more that I could do so I simply talked to her, held the back of her head and her hand so she would stay calm and would not move. As soon as the paramedics/firelighters arrived I answered their few quick questions and stood back at my truck. I was blocked in at this point so just watched and tried to learn a few things.

    I guess the important thing to do is to do what you can until the FD shows up. At that point do not interfere. Be sure to answer their questions and politely let them know you are a FF so if they need some more assistance then they know you may be able to help. But if they have enough people show up then there isn't even a need to let them know your a FF. Just watch and educate yourself.

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    Providing care for the injured trumps politics everytime. You did the right thing.

    I would add one more thing about some sort of identifying clothing\PPE. The accident victims need to know that you are qualified also. I rolled up onto what appeared to be a serious MVA a few years ago. By looking at the vehicles you could tell it was a significant collision. Both drivers were out of their vehicles. One seated on the curb, the other walking around and talking on a cel phone. Neither had obvious external injuries but of course internal and\or spinal injuries are always a concern. I identified myself as a firefighter first responder. The person seated at the curb was cooperative and did what I suggested. The other person basically ignored me. She continued to walk around her car screaming into her phone and acting hystericly despite my repeated suggestions that she remain calm and still.

    Highway patrol was first to arrive. I gave the officer a quick sizeup. He approached the frantic victim and she immediately complied with his requests.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blulakr View Post
    She continued to walk around her car screaming into her phone and acting hystericly despite my repeated suggestions that she remain calm and still.
    I read an account some time ago about a woman who was involved in an accident as the driver of one of the vehicles. When FF's arrived on the scene and sought to evaluate her she waved them off (she was still seated in the vehicle) and continued to talk on her phone. I think it took a LEO to deal with that one, too...

    Priorities, priorities...
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    If along one of the limited access highways around here and a fire company or bus was on the scene, I keep driving as not to add to the confusion or put my pov in a place that it may be involved.

    If on the normal run of the mill streets, I always stop to see if anyone is injured or see if they need assistance. If not, I say see ya, get back in my pov and drive on. I still call 9-1-1 even if they say they have, to relay info to the call taker.

    If the police is on the scene and you begin to slow or to pull over, and they wave at you to proceed down the road, you should heed what they say. No since in getting into a situation with them, even if you think you are in the right.
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

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    I've ran into similar situations a number of times, be it coming up on a wreck, a fire, or being somewhere when a medical emergency occurred.

    The first thing I do is one of the first things they teach you- identify yourself. "I'm a firefighter", "I'm a medic", whatever. Identify yourself to the bystanders, the patient, and anyone that arrives afterwards. By simply stating "I'm an off-duty medic" (or whatever title), you command attention from bystanders and can gain a level of trust with them and the patient.

    As far as the coat, I don't use mine if I have it. I keep it in the truck and simply identify myself. Once the guys with the appropriate PPE arrive in their jurisdiction, I introduce myself, give them whatever information is needed, and move aside. Typically I'll hang around until things wind down to make sure they don't need anything else from me.

    The one situation that sticks in my mind was one when I was traveling out-of-state. Myself and two other guys from our department were on our way bag from an apparatus manufacturer when we witnessed an accident. No one was there and we were in the middle of nowhere. We stopped and renderred aid, identifying ourselves to those bystanders that were there.

    When the ambulance finally arrived, I introduced myself and pointed out the other two guys were firefighter/EMT's, and gave them a report on my patient. The problem I got into was that I was the only medic amongst everyone there, as they ran BLS volunteer ambulances.

    Once the medical helicopter arrived, the head guy with the FD (they had arrived with another ambulance, no medics still yet) introduced me to the flight medic as a medic. Immediately he started handing me IV equipment. While I can't complain one bit about them offering me every courtesy in the book, I kept reiterating I wasn't licensed in their state and I was just a passerby that stopped to assist, and that's all I cared to do.

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    I believe in California if you are trained in ems you are not required to render aid to someone whom you happen to come across. If you do choose to render aid such as cpr then once you start you cannot stop until someone qualified replaces you or you are physically unable to continue.
    Last edited by Blulakr; 07-21-2010 at 12:11 PM.
    My wise and profound comments and opinions are mine alone and are in no way associated with any other individual or group.

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