Thread: Mayday

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    Default Mayday

    OK trivia buffs, is the distress call "MAYDAY" an acronym and if so, what does it mean?. I know it was and still is used by the Air Force but how and when did it become the distress call in the Fire Service? Get the brain juice flowing!

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    Lightbulb the origin of Mayday

    It comes from the French words for help me... "maid'er".

    The NFPA wants to eliminate the term from the fire service and use the term "firefighter down" in it's place. The reasoning is to avoid confusion on the radio with military rescue operations.

    Personally, I think the NFPA is wrong on this. Mayday is the universal call for help. When was the last time you heard the Coast Guard on your FD frequency?
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 01-21-2003 at 11:02 AM.
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    Default Re: the origin of Mayday

    Originally posted by Captain Gonzo
    The reasoning is to avoid confusion on the radio with military rescue operations.
    If you are operating on the same channel as active military rescue operations ... you have bigger problems than worrying about whether or not you should say "mayday" or "firefighter down."

    Stay Safe

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    Heck I wouldnt mind having a platoon of seabees or army engineers suddenly appear when I was trapped in a building! Or how about some of those airforce air rescue guys?

    7 LODDS this month we are not doing to good on staying below 100 LODDS for 2003

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    Originally posted by engine23
    Heck I wouldnt mind having a platoon of seabees or army engineers suddenly appear when I was trapped in a building! Or how about some of those airforce air rescue guys?
    I would agree ... provided, of course, the reason that these guys were there was NOT because you are in the middle of a war zone ...

    Stay Safe

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    Our SOG is written that we are supposed to say "emergency traffic" but if we can't remember that in an emergency, then "mayday" is also acceptable.

    Personally, I would use "mayday" because there is no ambiguity. When you hear "mayday! mayday! mayday!" you know the feces have hit the rotating wind maker and somebody needs help NOW!

    The NFPA wants to eliminate the term from the fire service and use the term "firefighter down" in it's place.
    Hey Cap, it could be worse, they could want us to use "pan pan"
    Last edited by WTFD10; 01-21-2003 at 11:57 AM.
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    Default Mayday

    Originally posted by WTFD10
    Our SOG is written that we are supposed to
    say "emergency traffic" but if we can't remember
    that in an emergency, then "mayday" is also
    acceptable.
    In California, the statewide guide (FireSCOPE)
    dicates that we will NOT use "mayday" due to
    the fact it is reserved for marine and aviation
    areas.

    Instead "emergency traffic" or "priority traffic"
    is to be used. I mostly agree with this standard
    and think this a good direction.

    After all- Mayday is a 24 hour period in the
    5th month of a calendar year.
    Last edited by CALFFBOU; 07-05-2004 at 10:27 PM.

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    When it is hitting the fan, what is easier AND FASTER to say:
    "MAYDAY" or "Firefighter Down"?

    Let's use some common sense here, "MAYDAY" is a universal ATTENTION GRABBER.

    Trust me, you hear "Mayday" and everything else stops.

    Regards to all,

    Jim Boyle (aka 1261Truckie)
    Captain - Porter Vol. F.D.

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    "Emergency Traffic" makes about as much sense as saying "Oops"

    Mayday is clear and concise over radios and has a distinct sound.
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    Mayday works for me, soon to be followed by "Oh Sh&t, I need help" or some variation of same.
    "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 remember telling the crew that we would use the word Mayday. They all looked at me like I was from another planet. There are a few that still don't get it. Doesn't matter where you are from or what department you are working with. Mayday is a universal distress call. Someone is in serious trouble.

    Terms like "Firefighter Down", "Priority Traffic", and "Help" do not grab your attention like Mayday. I can think of several fire ground traffic communications that could contain those words the same sentence.

    How many NIOSH reports state that no one was aware the LODD was in trouble when they stated, "I need help"? The NFPA is off base on this one.

    If you heard only the two words "Priority Traffic", what would you do?

    What would you do if those two words were Mayday, Mayday


    Stay Safe - Let's hope we never have to hear the word Mayday on the fire ground.
    Last edited by TriTownship600; 01-21-2003 at 03:05 PM.

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    This Old War-Horse is in favor of "Mayday" Not only should it be used by all FD's, but by anyone in dire-life threatening need. Even if that need is not necessary but instead preceived by the one in trouble. Too many hesitations cause LODD's! The only other symbolic use of letters close is SOS, and I've never seen anyone admonished or slapped for either......unless it was a hoax.
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    My thoughts:

    There are 2 main categories of important radio traffic. Urgent situations at a scene is one, and coworkers in danger is the other.

    "Priority Traffic" means someone has something very important to say.

    "Mayday" means a coworker needs help.

    Big difference between the two imho.

    "Mayday" SHOULD be used to convey urgency in situations that OUR personnel are involved in. When one of our own is in a crisis that presents grave or imminent danger, "Mayday" should be broadcast by those in danger. There was a great article comparing when a firefighter decides to issue a Mayday to a fighter pilot bailing out of his plane... check it out.
    When Would You Call Mayday?

    For the times when we encounter other important things... like we come across a building fire, or a brush fire jumps a fire line... or we lose water at a hydrant... the taglines "priority traffic" or "emergency traffic" can be added to ensure that your important radio traffic isn't covered by routine or less-important traffic. The marine/aviation term "pan pan" is akin to this. Urgent, but not grave and imminent danger.

    Originally posted by FDNYRR
    Even if that need is not necessary but instead preceived by the one in trouble. Too many hesitations cause LODD's!
    Couldn't agree more.

    More food for thought.
    Mayday - Do Firefighters Know When to Call It?
    Test Asks: Can You Survive?
    Last edited by Resq14; 01-22-2003 at 03:17 AM.
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    Next year the word "PAR" will be banned due to increasing number of golfers on radios trying to add up numbers during an emergency.
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