If you, our reader, has been in the fire service for a year or so, or more, you have probably seen spectator problems, especially with "rubber-necking" on highway or roadway accidents. On our roads, these deliberate slow-downs often impede our ability to arrive on scene and even perform the necessary tasks to provide the necessary assistance. Add to that the rude replies we receive from numerous drivers and passengers when we politely ask them to, "keep moving," or we divert them with a detour...well you know what I mean.
Now some of you may think that this attitude is a more recent occurrence due to our society's devolving into the "Me," attitude of today, but you would be wrong. It was 1977 and I had just joined a combo department, just outside Greensboro NC. A section of I-40 cut right through our southern district and, it was an MVC on that highway, that was one of the first calls I was qualified to respond on.
Luckily, we were responding from the station before the dispatcher even finished announcing the call and the highway was just over a mile down the street from our station. Luckily the two or three involved vehicles were already in the "breakdown lane." Upon arrival in our Squad, my friend and I were detailed to traffic control on I-40. We were wearing orange vests and carried orange directional wands. The Captain and Chief met us and advised us what they needed us to do, namely, keep the traffic moving, slowly and safely past the accident scene.
"How difficult could that be?" we naively thought!
It probably took less than five minutes before I was reprimanded by a driver for "upsetting" his travel plans! I was trying to be very polite and explained the issue; over and over again. No matter what I said, he had already vilified me for upsetting his family's plan to go wherever they were going. And I wasn't alone. He and others like him that afternoon, blamed every difficulty they had ever experienced, as well as the world's geo-political problems on our fire department!
Now, nearly 45 years later, one might believe that our society world have evolved since then, right? Wrong! Take a look at social and news media reports of a major, five-alarm fire in Lawrence MA, last night. Lawrence is a mid-sized city, a northwestern suburb of Boston. This morning, I have read or watched multiple articles and videos about how uncooperative people were during this major catastrophe.
Even after being advised not to cross fire-tape, come to the neighborhood, etc., dozens of folks decided it was better to watch a major fire that was impacting their own neighbors, then to stay at home. There were multiple reports that the crowds were not allowing needed fire apparatus to get to the scene or their staging assignments. People thought of the tragedy as entertainment and decided to sit or stand and watch from the viewpoint that would best suit them, not our brave Brothers and Sisters, who were contending with active fire in four major structures, cold temperatures and winds gusting to over 25 MPH.
I have no doubt whatsoever that the Lawrence Police Department, as well as neighboring agencies and the Mass State Police did everything within reason to keep onlookers our of the way of the numerous fire services. Nevertheless, the truth comes out and we can only imagine how difficult that situation was last evening and for the rest of us, as well.
There is nothing to be gained by being a "rubber-necker" or an uninvited and unwanted spectator at the scene of a major emergency. I know I often wondered, when I got some "lip" from a driver or spectator, how he or she would have felt if it was their emergency and all these people showed up and got in the way of the emergency service people attempting to mitigate their emergency.
Listen, if we're some of the first on scene before the local fire, EMS or law enforcement teams show up, we know that we'll render aid; that's who we are and what we do. But when a major portion of your neighborhood is burning down and brave men and women are risking their lives to mitigate the emergency, please help us and STAY the F**K away from us! We're NOT the new feature at your neighborhood "drive-in!"
STAY SAFE & STAY WELL!
As many of you know, our new nonprofit is dedicated to one goal, namely to help our Brothers and Sisters in need. And of course, that includes their families, where appropriate. As we peruse the social media platforms, we see all sorts of pitches for money. And as we are all aware, this is a very difficult time to solicit funds for a nonprofit enterprise.
Moreover, both our goal, as mentioned above and our motto, "One Family - One Mission - First Responders Helping Each Other," take us on a difficult path. For we reach out when circumstances are tragic and dismal; when something terrible has occurred. While many of us, while serving as firefighters, paramedics, EMT's and LEO's have faced on calls, only a small percentage of us have personally dealt with the aftermath.
My extensive experience in Jewish ritual provided me with many occurrences dealing with families after the loss of a loved one or a family tragedy of other sorts. I have counseled families at the time of loss, officiated at funerals and unveilings of headstones, as well as subsequently, helping them during their mourning period. As it turned out, being a volunteer firefighter at the same time as working in Jewish ritual, provided me with the experience needed on both sides of this "coin."
Nevertheless, together with the two members of our Board of Directors, Battalion Chief Andrew Starnes and, Firefighter & Editor of "The Firehouse Tribune," Nic Higgins, we chose our purpose and have worked hard to fulfill our mission. As of today, April 2, 2021, we have donated $1,700 to firefighters and/or their families, as well as several volunteer departments, who have faced tragedy or other loss.
There will be more to come. We know that and you know that. For us to be able to continue our mission, we need your help! As stated above, we know this is a difficult time for most of us. We are all too aware of the price that the Covid-19 pandemic has taken on all of us. Sure, slowly but surely, life is beginning to improve, but we are certainly not back to normal.
That means though, that we area all on an "unbalanced" scale. We are mentally, emotionally and financially impacted by the current state of affairs yet we, as first responders, know that we never know what today or tomorrow may bring!
We are not asking you to donate beyond your means! And we never will! Our new donation processing allows you to contribute just one time, monthly or yearly. And, you can use a credit/debit card, a check or an ACH payment; whichever is in your best interests! For example, a $5.00 donation per month would equal a $60.00 annual contribution. Moreover, since we are a certified non-profit, your donation(s) may be tax deductible. (Please check with your tax advisor!) Thus, not only do you help us to help first responder families, but you may be helping yourself financially.
No one knows when the next emergency or tragedy may occur. However, we do know that the team here at 5-Alarm Task Force Corp., is dedicated to helping our "family" if and when, it does occur. Please join us in our efforts. Please visit our website at https://www.5-alarmtaskforcecorp.org and select the DONATE button on the top menu.
Thank you and may God bless you and yours and keep you safe and well.
Most of us, as we grew up, set goals for ourselves, i.e. college, job, family, etc. However, as again, most of us are aware, Life often takes us down different pathways than those we had wanted and anticipated. On our podcast, "5-Alarm Task Force," you have heard me state that I had had no plans to be a firefighter; none whatsoever; I was going to be a rabbi! That all changed in the years 1974-77, when Life sent me on a different path to North Carolina. It was there that I joined my first volunteer department and that, changed my life forever, for the better! I have a hunch that if you are reading this entry, you may have had Life change a path for you, as well.
As some of you may know, I have had to cut back on my schedule a bit, due to some medical issues that have arisen. Nevertheless, I will use every moment I can be in this office to carry out the task that 5-Alarm Task Force Corp. was setup to do, namely to help our Brothers and Sisters in dire need. As you are probably aware, we lost both a Brother firefighter this week in Spring Valley NY, as well as a Brother-in-Blue in Boulder CO. We are now researching how we can reach out to help those families.
To do so, we still need your help. We just posted on Twitter that we have sold our last, three T-shirts, so it's time to add some new "swag" to our store. What would you like to see us carry, more short-sleeve T-shirts, long-sleeve T-shirts, ball caps, hoodies, etc? You can let us know at email@example.com or post your choice on Twitter to @5AlarmTaskForce #FATFSwag.
And remember, if you would like to make a donation to help us in our Life's Goal, we have made it much easier for you to do so. You will find the DONATE tab on our main menu, across the top. It will take you to our main donation page and just click on the photo of the "Q" siren! When you do, a new form will pop-up. There you can make a single donation or, you can choose to help us every month. We are not asking for any set amount. We always want you to be comfortable with whatever donation you are willing to make. And now, you have the choice of using a credit or debit card, as well as a checking/savings account or an electronic ACH transfer. Your information is automatically encrypted for your safety and security by our friends at EFT Transfer. And every penny will help us in our goal.
For those of you who will be celebrating Passover or Easter, we wish you a sweet and joyous holiday.
Stay Safe and Stay Well!
OK, I really did not plan for a "rhyme" above, sp please forgive me ;-)
Just wanted to let you know that you no longer have to search the site (if you're not familiar with it) to donate to help us at 5-Alarm Task Force Corp. We have added a DONATE tab to the main menu that lies across the top of the website. Just click on that word and you'll be immediately brought to our main donation page. When you select the photo of the Silver Siren, a new browser tab or browser window (depending on your system) with our new Donation Form. It (as well as our entire website now) is safely encrypted to protect all of your information, i.e. name, address, credit card/account info, etc. So you can be sure that making a donation to 5-Alarm Task Force Corp., is safe!
Many of you have heard of the tragic loss of another brave firefighter, Jared Lloyd (along with our brave, Brother in Blue, Officer Talley of the Boulder Police Department) tragically lost their lives this week, trying to save others. We are all First Responders, thus a large family and the loss of one from any of our branches, Fire, Police & EMS, is painful for all. Both left a spouse and children.
Your donation, no matter its size, will help us help our "family."
Thank you and God bless.
Today, marks a new milestone for 5-Alarm task Force Corp. As of today, March 18, 2021, we welcome our new partners, EFT Transfer Services, to process our general donations. Those new live donations points can be found on our Home Page, the Podcast Page and the Scroll of Honor Page, accessible through the OUR PURPOSE tab on the Main Menu. And you will note that we use a favorite "symbol" of the Fire Service, for you to "click" on!
When you select the "Q2B" photo, a new donation online donation form will pop-up in either a new tab or browser page, based on your personal configuration. You will see our logo and our message. And, better yet, you can now donate using a bank account through the ACH resource from EFT Transfer.
Now, when you shop in our store, we are still using PayPal for your shopping cart. So, pick up a new t-shirt and soon, we'll have some other items there as well.
With nearly twenty years working in and leading nonprofits, we must make our visitors feel welcome, so that you understand our singular mission - helping firefighters in dire need (and we hope to raise enough to assist other first responders , as well!)
Thank you for your support!
So, here we are. We're firefighters. Some of us are career, some of us a volunteer, part-pay, paid-on-call and/or wildland. No matter which, when we respond to a fire call, we don all our PPE, turnout gear, boots, hood, gloves, etc. Right? Right!
As many of us already know, this gear that is meant to protect us, may be making us sick or even killing us, due to the industry-wide use of PFOS/PFOA used in the waterproofing of the middle layer of our gear.
With that in mind, I recommend you read the article in the link below, from the "Law & Crime" website.
With sincere appreciation to our friends Diane & Paul Cotter, We have another important video regarding the Firefighter Cancer Initiative. While in some ways, we see many positive strides, we often find surprises, including information that was implicitly hidden, regarding cancer dangers to the fire service.
We hope you will check out the link below to watch this video clip from "Brian Ross Investigates," from the "Law & Crime Channel."
While we may think and believe that as firefighters, race, color and creed have no impact on how we protect and serve our communities, we all know better. And if we plan to service our entire community, that dedication must begin in each FIREHOUSE!
Next Tuesday, March 2nd at 1300 EST, Lexipol will be holding a free webinar on, "We Don't Have a Race Problem: Confronting Racial Inequity in the Fire Service.
You can get all the details AND register at info.lexipol.com/webinar-racial-inequity-in-the-fire-service.
Stay Safe & Stay Well!
Yes, I am an old, former firefighter, having served two volunteer departments from 1977-1985. For the first, nearly seven years, we defined "rehab" as having cold water, hot coffee or hot chocolate as the "sum total" of rehab. Whether it was a rollover off the Interstate or a working structure fire, we would head back to the Squad or Rescue, maybe take off our bunker coat and sip away for the next 5-10 minutes.
That all changed, especially for me personally, in the fall of 1984. I was eating lunch at the firehouse in upstate New York, when a call came in for a van down a deep embankment off of the Interstate in our district, with multiple ejections and fatalities. Everyone at the firehouse, plus additional volunteers responded.
It was October and uncannily warm, in the low 80's that afternoon. Upon arrival, we found the van some one-hundred feet down the embankment, with at least two fatal ejections and another seven passengers in the van. After our initial size-up and due to the steep incline, we set up our rope rescue systems to allow rescuers to both descend with rope tension and ascend with the Stokes, with help from the team by the Rescue.
I made four descents and climbs in about forty-five minutes. Under my bunker gear, I was wearing a shirt, tie and suit pants, having doffed my suit jacket when I bunkered up. And I was sweating - a lot. After assisting on scene for another half-hour, I had to return to work and got a ride by one of the police cars, back to the firehouse.
I worked for another four hours or so, but throughout, I was not feeling myself. Sure, I knew I was exhausted from the call, the climbing and the drama, but I did not feel well. So, when it was time for me to leave the office, I called my wife and told her I was going to stop at the firehouse for a quick check.
When I got there, one of my friends who was a paramedic saw me walk in and told me that he didn't think I looked well. I told him what had happened. He took me into the bunk room, called over another medic and then brought the gear into the bunk room.
My BP was high, I was dry as the proverbial bone, nauseated and had a slightly abnormal EKG. The medic called the acting chief and explained the situation. The chief asked him, "If he was a civilian that we had responded to, what would you normally do?
He replied, "We'd package him and transport with the ambulance company."
The chief said, "Then do it! It makes no difference that he's one of us. Get him to the ER STAT!"
When I got to the ER, they conducted a battery of labs, EKG's, ultrasound, etc. After about an hour, the doctor came over and explained that both my sodium and potassium levels were dangerously low, probably the cause of irregular EKG. He asked for the details of the afternoon, which I shared. After listening, the doctor explained that with the ambient temperature, being "wrapped in bunker gear" and the physical exertion, I had sweated these important salts out and never replenished them.
"If you had not come in here, you may have suffered a significant cardiac event!"
With that, a nurse came in and hung a 1,000ml bag of saline, Ringer's and D5W. Within about twenty minutes, I started feeling better.
REHAB is no joke and is not an "excuse" if you're a little tired after going through two or three tanks, working overhaul for an hour, etc. As much as we might like to think so, we're not "super heroes," impervious to human health risks! Just as we promote taking care of others, we must take care of ourselves, just to be able to take care of someone else.
This year's SAFETY STAN DOWN 2021 is all about rehab and how it has evolved over the nearly forty years since my incident. Rehab must be about determining our condition and stamina once we enter, including basic levels, e.g., pulse, pulse-ox, cardiac, replenishment and more. We must break the ethos that spending 15-20 minutes in rehab is a sign of weakness! It is NOT! It is a sign of your professional conduct, training and allowing others to care for you so that you can care for others!
For more information on this year's Safety Stand Down, please visit www.safetystanddown.org/
If you have been following our posts in this blog regarding PFAS in our bunker gear and its ability to be a carcinogenic compound, you will be interested in the article in the link below.
Remember, we ALL must be part of this fight to assure, that not only today's Public Safety members need to be safe, but those who come after us as well!