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  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber tree68's Avatar
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    Default The Ubiquitous Twenty Minutes

    If there's a number that crops up on a regular basis when citizens perceive a delay in emergency services responses, it's twenty minutes.

    No matter if a rig was parked at the front door when the 9-1-1 call is made, it seems like it takes us "twenty minutes" to arrive. The tale of the tape generally debunks that.

    The reason, of course, is because minutes turn to hours when the you-know-what hits the fan and someone is standing there watching and waiting.

    We recently had a CPR save involving a choking victim - delayed reporting was a major factor ("sure, just wait till he keels over to call..."). Response was rapid, even though the primary response ambulance was out of the area at the hospital, and the victim walked out of the hospital a day or two later, none the worse for wear.

    When the ops director (a paramedic who was also first on scene) visited the restaurant the next day, one of the staff questioned (apparently quite loudly) as to why it took "twenty minutes" for help to arrive. We know that it wasn't even close.

    So, what's your experience with "the ubiquitous 20 minutes?"
    Last edited by tree68; 07-15-2012 at 03:06 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Even though I drive fire apparatus for two volunteer fire departments, I have been on the recieving end for medical and LE calls.

    When you need help, those minutes can seem like hours. Most people think the Calvary is supposed to be on their doorstep at once.

    Most people go about their day without a sense of time. When there is an emergency, the sense of reality kicks in.

    Not to brag, but I try my hardest to get a rig on the road to an emergency. I have it preplanned, whether I respond from home or work. I have a pair of extrication coveralls by the front door, so when I respond at night, I do not have to waste time getting dressed. When I get to the hall, I hope I am not taking the first truck out. Sometimes, I am the first out. I know that someone depends on me, so I respond promptly. Of course, I drive to traffic, road and weather conditions.

    We try our hardest to respond prompty (and safely) to an emergency. We can only drive so fast, dodge traffic and manueveur through the roadways so fast. If you are getting flak after doing the impossible, let it ride off your back. We do not wear a "S" for Superman on our belly.

  3. #3
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    I have dealt with the "20 minute response" thing before...

    Computer aided dispatch where incident times are logged automatically is a wonderful thing.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Forum Member EastKyFF's Avatar
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    My former department dealt with that on an incident where some teens drowned in a car. The call was maybe 2 miles from their station, and they have live-ins, but of course it was, as usual, "twenty minutes" before they got there. Chief produced the CAD's, 'nuff said. I think part of the problem on that is that everybody there thought everybody else was calling 911 and no one did.

    But I don't know what is with the twenty minute figure. I guess it's like the drunk who had "two beers".
    "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”
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    We had a fire, the response time was like 6 minutes for the first engine on scene. I was talking to the owner of the building who complained about the 'twenty minutes', my only response was that we are always looking for more volunteers.

    The 'two beers' comment made me chuckle, I hear that much more than the 'twenty minutes'
    The winner is not the person with the most gold when he dies, but rather, the most stories

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    Quote Originally Posted by headoutdaplane View Post
    We had a fire, the response time was like 6 minutes for the first engine on scene. I was talking to the owner of the building who complained about the 'twenty minutes', my only response was that we are always looking for more volunteers.

    The 'two beers' comment made me chuckle, I hear that much more than the 'twenty minutes'
    I'll second that! And yeah, if you're gonna whine about how long it took to get there, then you should be stepping up to the plate yourself. It's extremely rare that it takes 20 minutes for the first unit to get on a scene just about anywhere except the most desolate places.

  7. #7
    Forum Member dfwfirefighter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    If there's a number that crops up on a regular basis when citizens perceive a delay in emergency services responses, it's twenty minutes.

    No matter if a rig was parked at the front door when the 9-1-1 call is made, it seems like it takes us "twenty minutes" to arrive. The tale of the tape generally debunks that.

    The reason, of course, is because minutes turn to hours when the you-know-what hits the fan and someone is standing there watching and waiting.

    We recently had a CPR save involving a choking victim - delayed reporting was a major factor ("sure, just wait till he keels over to call..."). Response was rapid, even though the primary response ambulance was out of the area at the hospital, and the victim walked out of the hospital a day or two later, none the worse for wear.

    When the ops director (a paramedic who was also first on scene) visited the restaurant the next day, one of the staff questioned (apparently quite loudly) as to why it took "twenty minutes" for help to arrive. We know that it wasn't even close.

    So, what's your experience with "the ubiquitous 20 minutes?"
    CAD does make things easier regarding this. Typically, these stories make the news a few times a year and the media will file and open records request to get the response times. 99.9% of the time, our response is well under the industry standard for both fire and EMS responses.

    If you are put into a situation as listed above, your best bet is listen (until they run out of breath) and then provide as educated a response as possible. If you do not know that facts regarding that particular incident, tell him or her that you do not know the fact and you are not prepared to speculate as to what happened. You can offer that your department responds to emergency runs well within national response recommendations 9X% of the time. Also, offer a contact within the department for that person to voice his or her concern to. The key is to provide the information to them, i.e. a name and phone number (even if it is just the Chief's secretary) and have that person follow through with it.

    Key points - listen until the run out of air and give them a carrot (a contact to call if they feel so inclined to do so).
    DFW



    "There's no such thing as a free lunch."

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    What we did several years ago, was implement a rural address sign program. Property owners could purchase the rural address sign and mount at their driveway.

    Not only did this sign raise funds for the fire dept., it marked rural driveways. This really helps for EMS calls at night. The sign are reflective and can be found with headlights and searchlights.

    Anything you can do to cut down response time helps.

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    And what did YOU do about the problem sir/madam?

    "Well, I called 911". (then stood in the way taking photos/recording incident with cell phone so can get on youtube/TV)

    In other words sir, you did NOTHING. A chimp can dial 3 digits on a phone, not even the minimal expected and required action.


    Seems to be growing school of though pushing buttons on cell phone counts as taking action.

  10. #10
    Forum Member EastKyFF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fireinfo10 View Post
    And what did YOU do about the problem sir/madam?

    "Well, I called 911". (then stood in the way taking photos/recording incident with cell phone so can get on youtube/TV)

    In other words sir, you did NOTHING. A chimp can dial 3 digits on a phone, not even the minimal expected and required action.


    Seems to be growing school of though pushing buttons on cell phone counts as taking action.
    We have a terrible number of what I call no-homework 911 calls around here. Somebody sees a puff of black smoke, they call 911. We arrive and some goober is burning a tire in a brush pile. Hear some tires squealing and a THUMP, call 911. We get there, fender-bender.

    Able-bodied people are just looking out the window, seeing something, calling us, and going back to their sudoku puzzle without trying to follow up.

    I don't expect them to go out and get a full-blown report of the extent of each person's injuries and their shoe size before calling 911, but they should call, TRY to investigate, and call back if they have further information.
    "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”
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  11. #11
    MembersZone Subscriber tree68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EastKyFF View Post
    We have a terrible number of what I call no-homework 911 calls around here. Somebody sees a puff of black smoke, they call 911. We arrive and some goober is burning a tire in a brush pile. Hear some tires squealing and a THUMP, call 911. We get there, fender-bender.

    Able-bodied people are just looking out the window, seeing something, calling us, and going back to their sudoku puzzle without trying to follow up.

    I don't expect them to go out and get a full-blown report of the extent of each person's injuries and their shoe size before calling 911, but they should call, TRY to investigate, and call back if they have further information.
    We have the same problem here. The 9-1-1 director has said, though, that the cell calls about accidents on the interstate, particularly, stop when the first red light arrives. Before that the dispatchers routinely get 8-10 calls on a given incident.

    It gets interesting in the wintertime, when a snow/ice event will usually cause several drivers to explore the ditches. If the car is to be left there for later retrieval, the dispatchers are notified, but invariably there will be several reports by passers-by who have no idea where they are and report an incident some distance from the actual location. Everybody goes out again, only to discover that they've already been there...

    Had a young fellow call in "smoke in the area" as he drove through town one night. We determined it was just a wood stove - although because the wind was out of the east that night, the smoke was blowing over the road, which wasn't usually the case.

    DFW - I'd handle such an incident pretty much as you described. In the case I cited, I believe one issue was that the ambulance wasn't on scene yet, even though several first responders (including a paramedic) were on scene and working on the patient. Even then, the ambulance didn't take 20 minutes either...
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    And yeah, if you're gonna whine about how long it took to get there, then you should be stepping up to the plate yourself.
    I gotta disagree with this type of mentality regarding these situations. Using this line of thinking, a person who complains about how long it took for them to be served at a restaurant should "step up" and a go cook their own meal, the person who complains about how long they had to wait at the doctor's office should "step up" and go to medical school.

    Besides, we all have a constitutional right to complain about anything we want to complain about.

    Additionally,

  13. #13
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    Well, the answer is obvious. "It took us 20 minutes to drink our two beers"...
    No good deed goes unpunished

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