Would you stop to help?
An issue I've been considering-if you are traveling, gear aboard, and come on a MVC or even a structure fire, AND THE LOCAL DEPARTMENT HAS RESPONDED, do you stop to offer to help? Naturally if there is no one else on scene we do what we can, but if there is another department present, what then?
I actually had this happen once years ago, there was a bad two-vehicle MVC, one rescue on scene with two responders, I could hear other sirens coming. I stopped and held C-Spine on the second driver until someone got a collar and backboard in place, then helped extricate her. The first-due crew were gracious and appreciative, that time.
Thinking about it, though, I can see the potential for a different outcome. If the roles were reversed, I would like the help on at least scene control or maybe controlling bleeding, but I wouldn't feel comfortable accepting help on an attack from a stranger-albeit one in personal bunker gear ought to know what to do...
Interested in comments/thoughts or if there are SOPs to cover this. Would a career/combination department have a different perspective than volunteers? Is there liability for either party? Is there a duty of perform outside your own district? What do we owe the public or the brotherhood when away from our own patch?
Absolutely. Just what I want is an unknown person to have to worry about at a fire scene. But hey, you have your own gear. You can fit in seemlessly with our operations and not be a cause for concern...after all, you know our policies/procedures/tactics...
The only time I've ever done this was when I was off-duty and I came upon a neighboring career department who was trying to contain a brush fire with only three guys. I knew a couple of them, so it wasn't really a big deal.
Otherwise, hell no, I'm not stopping, especially if the other department already has folks there.
I probably wouldn't stop, but it depends on the situation. I would stop 100% if nobody has responded yet or there was an MCI that they were overwhelmed with and offer help.
I don't think I would stop to participate for the reasons stated previously. I would stop and offer to help if it was obvious it was an MCI and they needed more hands (up to their *** in alligators), but only after checking in with the IC and clearly identifying myself.
Since I am a Firefighter 1 academy instructor, I may stop to gather photos for future use.
Barring perhaps some very unusual circumstances, I would say definitely no. If they need help, their equipment should have radios. They can request it.
Anyone not part of the responding department's crew is a bystander. If that person has PPE, they are a bystander in a costume. Like Bones42 said, strangers don't know policies/procedures/or tactics.
I have in the past, particularly if EMS is involved. Being in a chiefly rural area, any help is usually appreciated, and I've been told more than once that I'm welcome to help out any time.
I know most of the major players in our surrounding districts (and most of the county). If I'm passing a scene, I'll usually ask if they're all set. If they're not, they'll let me know. Otherwise, I'll get out of the way and let them work.
If I do help out, with the IC's consent, we're all under the same insurance county-wide.
I have been known to snap a picture or two from safe vantage points.
I think if you properly identify yourself, even show some ID, most depts. wouldn't have a problem with you helping, at least not in the early stages of an incident when they were undermanned. I usually have a first aid bag with me anyway since I live in a rural area.
I've stopped several times for MVAs when something just happened or no one has shown up yet. My Chief has done the same. I've held c-spine, started IPS or done other activities until the first responding unit shows up I inform them who I am, what I've done and do they need any other assistance. Most say thank you, have me continue and clear me when they have more personnel arrive. I've only had a problem one time and that person's problem was that I was a vollie and not what I had done.
We did stop one time while on the interstate in a town not too far away.
A 12 car MVC happened literally in front of us due to rubbernecking caused by a car fire.
I saw it happening and pulled into median strip to avoid getting hit myself by other gawkers. Once traffic stopped ,we started triage and called in to their dispatch giving them a sitrep.
We got the injured to stay put and told everyone that help was on the way.
Once the local Dept and state police arrived we gave them a tally of the injured and our triage info on the most serious. They asked us to deal with the minor injuries while they dealt with the priority 1's. As soon as enough resources arrived to relieve us we gave our info to the IC who we knew and the trooper doing the investigation & left.
Received a nice thank you and plaque for our efforts.
As far as freelancing at a fire scene NO not a chance.
If they are already on scene, the only time I might consider stopping is in the areas immediately on either side of our first due, where I likely know the people. Even then, I'm unlikely to stop unless they have requested additional resources. In general, I won't stop outside our first due unless I am the first on the scene.
I have helped other departments a few times, I was driving behind a car late one night coming home from a college football game, the driver was weaving and was more than likely intoxicated, so as I dial the local PD up to report the driver, as soon as they picked up the driver left the road struck a brick/block sign at about 30mph so I gave my location, activated my emergency lights and began treating the driver, a young female who was intoxicated, she exited the car and I was able to calm her down by telling he I was an off duty fire medic and get c-spine and give her a good once over until the local medics got there, she had a broken ankle, tin/fib fracture and several lacerations to the face from the air bag. Several weeks later I got a thank you card in the mail from her, the police officer gave her my address so she could thank me for stopping to help her
I'm wanting to call BS on this handy story.
Originally Posted by NFD202
Depends on the wreck and the stage of the wreck. I have been the recipient of both good and bad help. When your the duty responder more people getting involved creates more problems then helps. But if I am on scene and need hands until my radio requests are answered I will use what I have to.
Good: A calm off duty responder stands out of the way and to the side, identifies himself and department, and offers to help but knows to stay out of the way. I wouldn't hesitate to use this person if needed.
Bad: An off duty responder is all over the scene with adrenalin flowing and trying to direct and draw attention away to insignificant occurrences during patient care - I would have removed from the scene.
An experienced responder who wants to help is calm, knows to stay clear unless requested, and does what is asked. Those are welcome.