Racial Equity in the Firehouse
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!
E&E's Report - Part II
Yesterday, we shared the link to "Energy & Environment's" Part I of their report of PFOS/PFOA in our bunker year. In this new link, reporter Ariel Wittenberg, continues to share what his investigation has found. www.eenews.net/stories/1063725187
Also, tomorrow, Friday, February 19th at 3:00 PM ET, join EWG FACEBOOK LIVE re: Peaselee/Harvard - PFAS Found in Firehouse Dust Study
Expert Panel Discussion with Dr Graham Peaslee, Dr David Andrews, PPE Specialist
The link is www.facebook.com/ewg.org/posts/10159536279594887
We just received another link with another important article regarding PFOS/PFOA in our bunker gear! The article referenced our recent guest, Capt. Sean Mitchell of the Nantucket Fire Department, Local 2509.
You can watch my interview with Sean on our YouTube channel at this link:
Be sure to let us know what you think about this deadly problem and what your department is doing about it!
Stay Safe & Stay Well!
Sad Fulfillment of Our Mission
As you have seen on this website and heard on our podcasts, we are very proud of our idea of creating our nonprofit corporation to assist firefighters and other first responders in need. However, it is important to keep in mind that when we do assist someone, it is often for a difficult situation. Nevertheless, it is "who we are and what we do," as firefighters.
You may have heard or read that on January 29th of this year, four people were killed in a structure fire in the small community of Wynoka OK. The word "wynoka" is Cherokee for, "sweet water." The population is less than 2000, but they have an active and dedicated volunteer fire department. We know that because two of our Brothers made the ultimate sacrifice at that structure fire.
Upon arrival, the structure was engulfed, with the front door blocked. The Chief requested mutual aid. The dispatch said the two people were trapped in a bedroom. Chief Lonnie Bolar and Firefighter Tayler Bradford, entered the structure in an attempt to rescue the civilians, after they were unable to do so through a window. Reports say that one of the firefighters reached one of the trapped people and was trying to lead them out, when suddenly, the roof collapsed. Tragically, all four were lost.
Immediately upon hearing the news, we communicated with each other and decided this was the type of call to which, we needed to respond. It took a couple of weeks to hear back from the department via social media. When we did, we explained who we are, what we do and why we wanted to assist. They were quite surprised by our plan.
Chief Bolar left a wife and four children. Firefighter Bradford left a wife and two sons. Today, we are proud to have mailed out two significant checks to the families with a personal note from us and how we share their pain and sorrow, as we do when we lose a Brother or Sister.
This is what this company wants to do. As sad and as painful as it is, we can bring some relief to a Brother or Sister and/or their families. But the only way we can do this, is if YOU help us. Would we love to see large corporate or personal donations? Sure we would! However, you can still help up when you purchase a T-shirt or use one of the "DONATE" buttons on the website to send $5, $10, $25, etc. And never forget, that when YOU make a donation, it comes from your heart!
Stay Safe & Stay Well!
A new study by Harvard University found dust collected from over a dozen firehouses in Massachusetts, including Boston, loaded with PFAS!
Our sincere appreciation to our Brothers and Sisters at Station Pride No. 1 and our dear friend, Diane Cotter for sharing this information at the link, below:
The above is a trying and telling question that we have been asking for over the past several years when since the problems of fluorinated, "forever chemicals" were discovered in the very gear that is meant (and was believed) to keep us safe.
A new article was posted on Firehouse.Com(R) this week that could very well put us on the path of wearing safer bunker gear. You can find it through the link, below:
PFAS & Dust in the Firehouse
The scourge of PFAS and other "forever chemicals" continues in the Fire Service. Seemingly, the more we are learning about this danger, the more pervasive we find it to be. Our Brothers and Sisters in the IAFF took a strong stand at their recent convention. It is up to each and every one of us to play a role to have these carcinogenic chemicals removed from our bunker gear in order to allow us to help stop cancer from being the Number ONE killer of firefighters in this country.
To see just how pervasive PFAS is, please read the following study where researchers have discovered PFAS in the basic dust in our firehouses!
Stay Safe & Stay Well and Don't Be the First Domino!
Founder & President of 5-Alarm Task Force Corp. and Creator & Host of the "5-Alarm Task Force" podcast.