1. #1
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    Default Showing Up Alone

    With my last few calls, I have noticed that not many people from my company show up. They've all got things going on, as well as the radio coverage in our response area being spotty so they don't get the pages. That's just life. My concern is, is showing up to calls alone. Medicals, particularly.
    I'm a new member, and recently recieved medical training through the department. You can have all the classroom training you can get but its worthless without field training. I am not confident enough to go it alone just yet, but in the case of my last call, I was. It went decent, but it has kind of scared me from responding unless I know someone else will be there.
    Any advice? I recently arrainged to partake in some ride alongs in the city, so at least I will get some observational exposure to the field. Due to it being a separate department, I cannot jump into the play.

    FYI, low call volume for my company. rougly 2-3 a month.

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    Quote Originally Posted by J-Fro View Post
    With my last few calls, I have noticed that not many people from my company show up. They've all got things going on, as well as the radio coverage in our response area being spotty so they don't get the pages. That's just life. My concern is, is showing up to calls alone. Medicals, particularly.
    I'm a new member, and recently recieved medical training through the department. You can have all the classroom training you can get but its worthless without field training. I am not confident enough to go it alone just yet, but in the case of my last call, I was. It went decent, but it has kind of scared me from responding unless I know someone else will be there.
    Any advice? I recently arrainged to partake in some ride alongs in the city, so at least I will get some observational exposure to the field. Due to it being a separate department, I cannot jump into the play.

    FYI, low call volume for my company. rougly 2-3 a month.
    Well fortunately you said you had the training, If/When the time comes that you show up to a call alone you will fall back onto your training like its second nature, Its the same concept as CPR, We all get trained for it and some may wonder are they capable of doing it right away without hesitation, But once you are faced with a scenario that you are trained for then your training takes over and puts fear behind it. Unfortunately as a Volunteer you will have times where you may be the only one on a Medical until EMS arives, But as you stated above you already ran a Medical and did just fine only proving what I am trying to say, Your training will always prevail in times of need.

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    I had that once so far. Call came in for a brush fire and I was right by the station so i pulled in. Had my young kids with me so I couldnt go anyway but started getting the rigs ready to go. It took almost 5 min. for the next person to show up. Also even if I didnt have my kids with me I am still a recruit and am not allowed to drive anything yet so i would have still been waiting.

  4. #4
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    Default Showing Up Alone

    It's something we're seeing more and more.

    Had a daytime call a few years ago. I'm retired, so I'm available during the day. Many, if not most, of our members are not.

    The call was an automatic mutual aid for a structure fire in a neighboring town, about seven miles away.

    After waiting through a second page and a little longer, I rolled with the engine - I figured in a worst case scenario, I could help with water supply. It wasn't far off the river and I could have laid to water and drafted.

    Fortunately, the home department got an excellent knockdown and I was headed for home before long.

    We only have a couple of EMTs right now - so for medical calls, sometimes I am alone. I've been doing this long enough that I can usually handle what comes up, though. It comes down to trying to keep the patient going until a higher level of care arrives (ie, the ambulance).

    Do what you're confident with. You'll gain experience and be able to handle more.

    We run 10-15 calls a month, about half are EMS.
    Last edited by tree68; 08-05-2013 at 05:21 PM. Reason: Further thoughts
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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    This says it all,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CG2cux_6Rcw

    Having said that, make sure your dispatch is aware that you are responding alone, so they know to keep checking on you. And if you are doing more than a medical assist, have them start your next mutual aid company(ies). Fire fighting is a team sport, not individual competition.

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    Thanks for the replies, guys.
    I had another call this evening. It was much more serious, but fortunately I arrived right with the career engine. I have been trained but I will be honest, beyond patent assessment I'm lost. I know the intro, the questions to ask pertainent to the situation and MOI. But as far as treatment right off the bat...
    Tonight's call was for seizures. I understand there isn't much to be done with minimal equipment other than provide o2, maintain comfort and collect information. Right?

    In our county, only specific resources have radios. We have about 20 volunteer stations, and 22 career stations in the county so only apparatus/assigned crews get radios to keep in touch with dispatch.

    With time, it will get better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by J-Fro View Post
    Thanks for the replies, guys.
    I had another call this evening. It was much more serious, but fortunately I arrived right with the career engine. I have been trained but I will be honest, beyond patent assessment I'm lost. I know the intro, the questions to ask pertainent to the situation and MOI. But as far as treatment right off the bat...
    Tonight's call was for seizures. I understand there isn't much to be done with minimal equipment other than provide o2, maintain comfort and collect information. Right?

    In our county, only specific resources have radios. We have about 20 volunteer stations, and 22 career stations in the county so only apparatus/assigned crews get radios to keep in touch with dispatch.

    With time, it will get better.
    You should NEVER think that you'ver learned it all. It takes a long time to be even fairly comfortable with patient assessments. Always err to the side of caution. Just keep learning, and if you have a question about something, ask the EMS crew about it later.

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    I've been alone on hay bale fire, nobody likes those so they use the excuse that they couldn't leave work when they hear those come over the pager, but you can bet if it was a structure fire or MVA they would of showed up. We tried to get our dispatch not to say "Bale Fire" over the pager so that more people show up but they still do. Luckily that time it was one bale and they farmer was there to help me roll it out and hose it down
    Its a eerie feeling to be sitting in the truck all ready to go and nobody showing up, it makes you wonder if you heard the pager right, other times I've gotten out of the truck and looked down the street and thought to myself maybe I imagined the call but every other time somebody has showed up.
    Seconds seem like minutes when you are waiting all ready to go!!!!

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    One evening after work, I got a call for a large vegetation fire up in my canyon. I was the second person there behind the career engine. Since I am not a full responder yet (I don't have my wildland or structure gear) I decided to fall back and just wait at the station for my company members to show up. My station became the staging area for the incident, so I helped manage all the incoming resources, strike teams, dozers, inmate crews, etc. I was there until about 1 am, and was the only person on my company to be there. Others were gone or... working or something. At that point I became I a little concerned.
    I'm sure it all has to do with department specific SOPs but if I'm the only person on my company to show up, if I had my gear I couldn't even work on the fire could I? Seeing as how I'd be without a crew and accountability would be all messed up if I went with another crew. All of our rigs require minimum staffing to roll, and I'm the only person to show up so nothing could have moved anyways. I think.

    Anyways, I made the best of the situation by helping where I could and learning as much as possible. I'm just beginning to get a little concerned that this keeps happening.

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    A bit of an update:

    I am now enrolled in an EMT class, and thus has helped exponentially in my confidence for medicals. Even though an EMT license has a different scope of practice, it's close enough so far that at least the patient assessment has gotten easier, and most things are the same between my current license and EMT.
    I'm still always the first one at scene (weird because I come from farthest away) but I'm coming to terms with it. Fires will be another story.

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    Rural dpartment here, we have times during the week when there are not a whole lot of members around. Fire calls are usually not a problem as far as coverage goes but sometimes medical calls have very little coverage. We have a few "medically qualified" personnel on our department and they are the ones who run the medical calls if they are in district. I use the term medically qualified because these individuals have recieved at the minimum first responder qualification (several are EMT up through Paramedic) and have gotten the thumbs up to run the calls alone from our chief. I do not run a medical call except to assist one of the medical responders we have. I have some advanced training from my time in the military but nothing we can put on paper at the department. I have responded before without another responder and was told by my LT that I should not do that again. According to him that without the proper documented training that as a responder with the Fire department for a call myself and the department could be found negligent if I made a poor decision at a medical call. There are no good samaritan laws to protect volunteer firefighters responding in regards to providing aid at an emergency. Now I sit and listen for someone else to sign on before heading to any medical calls knowing that there is probably someone home in district with the training to run the call, but they just do not want to. I have requested the training but it has not come back around in our area for quite a while. I also want to do the EMT program at our local community college for about $1200 but with us having several EMT's already on the department who have had their training paid by the department I have not been deemed as needing to have that training as of yet.
    Last edited by Bigmo; 12-19-2013 at 09:58 AM.

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    First person to our station almost always rolls alone, especially in the daytime during workdays. We do that because somebody is generally close to the station. They can get there, hop in a pickup, and get going pretty quick. If it is something minor, like a fire in the ditch, they can get there quick and get it put out before it hops off out into the pasture and becomes a big fire. If it is something more substantial, then we at least have someone on scene to tell us what is on fire, where the fire is at, what trucks we need to be bringing, and request mutual aid if necessary.

    We do that for a couple reasons. First, with most our members working out of town, it takes a little while for everyone to get there. One or two people may be generally kind of handy around the station, but those next two or three may be 10 minutes or so out. Also, our dispatch information isn't always very detailed. A lot of fires are called in from cell phones, and cell service in this county is non-existent except for a few select areas. Most fires are spotted and called in by people driving down one of the US highways when they drive through a spot with cell service. The callers don't always know what is on fire or where, but they see smoke. And our dispatchers aren't always great at getting more detailed information. So we don't know where the fire is at or what is on fire generally until we arrive on scene.

    We also run when EMS is toned out to our area. The ambulance is generally 20 minutes or more away, and they don't know our neck of the woods, so we try to get someone on scene that can tell them what is going and where they need to go. We are trained in some basic first aid, CPR, and using the AED. If the call might warrant it, Air Evac is launched. We do what we can for the patient until the ambulance arrives and try to give the ambulance crew an idea of what is going on before they arrive. When the ambulance gets there, we let the professionals take over and go establish a landing zone if a helicopter was called.

    Minutes seem like hours, but whoever is out there just has to do what they can until the help arrives.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WVFD705 View Post
    First person to our station almost always rolls alone, especially in the daytime during workdays. We do that because somebody is generally close to the station. They can get there, hop in a pickup, and get going pretty quick. If it is something minor, like a fire in the ditch, they can get there quick and get it put out before it hops off out into the pasture and becomes a big fire. If it is something more substantial, then we at least have someone on scene to tell us what is on fire, where the fire is at, what trucks we need to be bringing, and request mutual aid if necessary.

    We do that for a couple reasons. First, with most our members working out of town, it takes a little while for everyone to get there. One or two people may be generally kind of handy around the station, but those next two or three may be 10 minutes or so out. Also, our dispatch information isn't always very detailed. A lot of fires are called in from cell phones, and cell service in this county is non-existent except for a few select areas. Most fires are spotted and called in by people driving down one of the US highways when they drive through a spot with cell service. The callers don't always know what is on fire or where, but they see smoke. And our dispatchers aren't always great at getting more detailed information. So we don't know where the fire is at or what is on fire generally until we arrive on scene.

    We also run when EMS is toned out to our area. The ambulance is generally 20 minutes or more away, and they don't know our neck of the woods, so we try to get someone on scene that can tell them what is going and where they need to go. We are trained in some basic first aid, CPR, and using the AED. If the call might warrant it, Air Evac is launched. We do what we can for the patient until the ambulance arrives and try to give the ambulance crew an idea of what is going on before they arrive. When the ambulance gets there, we let the professionals take over and go establish a landing zone if a helicopter was called.

    Minutes seem like hours, but whoever is out there just has to do what they can until the help arrives.
    Why don't you guys take something bigger than a pickup??? It's always better to have more than you need than not enough. A single guy with a deck gun can at least control a fire for a bit. And there's no excuse for the Ambulance crew to not know where they are going. There is such a thing as Google Earth for cryin' out loud...

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    playing medicine without the proper training is Dangerous & could potentially expose you to liability

    Get trained and certified/ licensed by your state office of EMS for your own protection and your patients.

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    Quote Originally Posted by J-Fro View Post
    With my last few calls, I have noticed that not many people from my company show up. They've all got things going on, as well as the radio coverage in our response area being spotty so they don't get the pages. That's just life. My concern is, is showing up to calls alone. Medicals, particularly.
    I'm a new member, and recently recieved medical training through the department. You can have all the classroom training you can get but its worthless without field training. I am not confident enough to go it alone just yet, but in the case of my last call, I was. It went decent, but it has kind of scared me from responding unless I know someone else will be there.
    Any advice? I recently arrainged to partake in some ride alongs in the city, so at least I will get some observational exposure to the field. Due to it being a separate department, I cannot jump into the play.

    FYI, low call volume for my company. rougly 2-3 a month.

    Departments should considering looking into services provided by companies like "edispatch"... when a tone goes out it gets texted and/or delivered to an app on your phone so you can listen to the page. Could help a lot!

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    Only if you live in an area with good cell service.
    Many rural areas have limited or no cellular coverage even today.
    I don't own a cell phone since they took away the old analog service, we have a few places where a couple bars can be had in our town but lots more with zero signal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WVFD705 View Post
    First person to our station almost always rolls alone, especially in the daytime during workdays. We do that because somebody is generally close to the station. They can get there, hop in a pickup, and get going pretty quick. If it is something minor, like a fire in the ditch, they can get there quick and get it put out before it hops off out into the pasture and becomes a big fire. If it is something more substantial, then we at least have someone on scene to tell us what is on fire, where the fire is at, what trucks we need to be bringing, and request mutual aid if necessary.

    We do that for a couple reasons. First, with most our members working out of town, it takes a little while for everyone to get there. One or two people may be generally kind of handy around the station, but those next two or three may be 10 minutes or so out. Also, our dispatch information isn't always very detailed. A lot of fires are called in from cell phones, and cell service in this county is non-existent except for a few select areas. Most fires are spotted and called in by people driving down one of the US highways when they drive through a spot with cell service. The callers don't always know what is on fire or where, but they see smoke. And our dispatchers aren't always great at getting more detailed information. So we don't know where the fire is at or what is on fire generally until we arrive on scene.

    We also run when EMS is toned out to our area. The ambulance is generally 20 minutes or more away, and they don't know our neck of the woods, so we try to get someone on scene that can tell them what is going and where they need to go. We are trained in some basic first aid, CPR, and using the AED. If the call might warrant it, Air Evac is launched. We do what we can for the patient until the ambulance arrives and try to give the ambulance crew an idea of what is going on before they arrive. When the ambulance gets there, we let the professionals take over and go establish a landing zone if a helicopter was called.

    Minutes seem like hours, but whoever is out there just has to do what they can until the help arrives.
    This sounds alot like my district except we respond almost entirely POV due to the size of our district and how many members are in our district at a given time. The medical gear rides with the medically trained responders and as I said if they do not run the call when it comes in no one else does either except for real emergent calls like cardiac arrest/ trauma. As far a responding apparatus goes we have a group of firefighters selected by the chief who are allowed to drive the trucks. I was recently added to that group several months ago because now, after moving, I am the closest to the station. Everyone knows that when one of us sign on we sign on as in route to the station. Chief or another officer if the Chief is not in district will direct us otherwise. I have been directed several times to head straight to the scene when I am closest to the call and the station as well because a good size up can ensure we respond appropiately or cancel response all together.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    Why don't you guys take something bigger than a pickup??? It's always better to have more than you need than not enough. A single guy with a deck gun can at least control a fire for a bit. And there's no excuse for the Ambulance crew to not know where they are going. There is such a thing as Google Earth for cryin' out loud...
    If we had a pumper or a vehicle with a deck gun, we might take it. But we don't. We have either pickups or converted GI trucks. We generally aren't fighting many structure fires, anyway. Mostly wildfires. The GI trucks will top out at maybe 50 MPH. The pickups can travel at highway speeds and can make all of the bridges and most of the river crossings.

    Google earth works if you have visible house numbers and cell service.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WVFD705 View Post
    Google earth works if you have visible house numbers and cell service.
    The mapping programs only work if you spell the address "correctly." Only recently have I been able to put in my proper address and get the programs to actually point at my house.

    If you spell the street name itself wrong (ie "Point" instead of "Pointe") forget it. I've recently discovered that the programs seem to like Co Rte vs Co Rt.

    The other part of the problem is getting people to post their address. A county-wide media blitz here a couple of years ago improved things slightly, but not much. A lot of people aren't thinking of emergency response if/when they mark their mailbox - they put the number where the postal carrier can see it. All too often it's too small to see if you're moving at any speed, too. We try to push the big reflective signs, but some people have other places to spend their money.

    Then there was the person who complained bitterly that the ambulance drove right past her house early one morning. There was no address posted...

    I guess we're supposed to be clairvoyant - or we're supposed to know where everyone lives...
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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    If you end up being first on scene quite frequently, you must ensure proper sizeup is done and radioed in. Ensure you attend sizeup training at your FD training and/or any regional fire academies. If your FD does not have sizeup training, request it. You are not the only member of your FD that needs it.

    Being on scene first can be overbearing. Somebody has to be their first. Since it sometimes is you, people will expect you to be an expert on what to do.

    Whether its a fire or EMS Call, the first few minutes can help or hamper the situation. Reading smoke from a burning building, accessing patients, etc. is what needs to be done.

    One of my pet peeves on structure fires, is when water supply is not established right away. Whether hooking up to a hydrant or requesting water tenders (tanker) at the onset is not done, valuable water for the firefighting is delayed.

    When I respond to a structure fire with a pumper, I have it in my head that there is only "X many" gallons of water in the booster tank. If the fire needs more than that, where am I going to get it?

    In the situation you are in, do the best you can, with what you have. Just ensure you obtain sizeup training and know how to call for additional help (mutual aid).
    Last edited by FIRE117; 12-25-2013 at 08:17 PM. Reason: spelling

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    I lost count how many times I've run alone from MVA's to MCI's to falls off buildings, etc. Most of them happen at times of the day where people are changing shifts and coverage gets low. I deal with it because you have to. Sometimes I ask for a re-tone, sometimes I grab PD and conscript them and then there are times to scene I ask for mutual aid.

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