Emergency Medical Dispatch has Changed the Way We Respond

You might recall that earlier this year we made a move to Emergency Medical Dispatch.  We purchased a nationally known software package developed by emergency medical personnel to direct our dispatchers more effectively in how to deal with callers with medical emergencies.  It is a system used around the country.   In the past, we did not give medical directions like how to conduct CPR or other lifesaving, we transferred the caller to STAR EMS our partners in emergency medical service.  Now that we are flying solo with respect to delivery of EMS services, we needed to make this change.  Along the way we also made a change to Emergency Fire Dispatch to improve how we are handing fire calls.

We have had extensive training and our personnel are operational on a software program called Pro-QA.  It is the highest quality software system we could find in the country and the one accepted by Oakland County Medical Control Authority–the rule setting body for emergency medical services in our county.  It is an automated tool to provide the very best in pre-hospital patient care. During the course of an emergency medical call, ProQA guides the process of collecting the vital information from the caller, obtaining the patient’s status, choosing an appropriate dispatch level, and instructing the caller with medically approved protocols until the dispatched units arrive at the scene.

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This is what the text we get looks like. The call is an M or medical. The 06 tells the EMS rig what the medical problem category is, the C code means a mid level response –D and E are lights and sirens and police are sent–the most serious calls. The 3R tells us who is being sent-Rescue 3 is the dispatched unit. Then the address. We click on the https:// link and the dispatch card with more details pops up and we get another link to a Google map to the location.

One aspect that our callers will need to adjust to is that we no longer runs lights and sirens to calls that don’t have potential as a serious medical issue as we did in the past.  The dispatchers ask many more questions as directed by the software to gain information about the patient’s status.  They are typing the answers to the questions into the software which is being read by the radio operator who is dispatching the units.  The units in the field are also receiving a text message that is updating with the answers to the questions.  You can see an example at right.

It is a highly technical system and we like it.

You might not like it as well if you don’t understand it particularly when you are a caller.  You may become frustrated when the call taker keeps asking questions and you may get the idea that no one is being sent to you.  At a certain point in the conversation when we have enough information, the units are dispatched even though the call taker is still on the line with you.

See a demo of the software here of a medical call.  Note that there is a timer on the screen.  Every dispatcher is timed for each call and later evaluated.   Our goal is to achieve the fastest possible call processing time by each dispatcher while maintaining accuracy.

We also purchased the software for Emergency Fire Dispatch to improve our method for dispatching fire.

See a demo of the software here of a fire call.

We are changing to do the very best for you.

What Slows Down Emergency Responders When Every Second Counts

A few weeks ago I was watching a “dash cam” video from one of our cars.  The video came from a sergeant’s car as he was en route to intercept the pursuit of an armed robbery suspect.  The sergeant’s role is to supervise the pursuit –it is his/her responsibility to make sure our policies and procedures are followed to ensure the safety of the public and the officers themselves.  He was trying to get to the location where he expected the pursuit to end.   In this case it was an armed robbery of a gas station where a gun was seen.  The video shows him struggling to get around a truck in the left lane.  The sergeant was using lights and sirens and still the truck wouldn’t move.  Ultimately he did, but slowly.  It wasn’t clear if he didn’t hear or see the police car behind him or he didn’t know what to do. Playing loud radios or wearing headphones or talking on the telephone in the car is commonplace now.  It creates a dangerous situation for us and delays our response.

We have changed our response policies for both police and fire to limit our use of lights and sirens.  So when you see us coming lights and sirens–it is the real deal.

I’ve attached a news story that gives some detail to the subject.

http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/what-slows-down-emergency-responders-when-every-second-counts-n194126

By the way, the law in Michigan says to pull to the right to allow emergency vehicles to pass.  It is very dangerous for us to pass you on the right and we train our folks not to do that.  Allow us to pass by pulling to the right and stopping.

We know you want us to be there when you need our help.  Paying attention to emergency vehicles and pulling over helps us get where we are going.

Hoarder Fires

inside_a_hoarders_640_12Have you watched an episode of that TV program, “Hoarders”?  These situations create very hazardous conditions for the people who live there which includes the potential for a fire.  If there is a fire, the responding firefighters are also endangered by these conditions.   These extreme “collectors” pile things, papers, magazines, furniture, clothing, food, in high stacks that create a literal maze with narrow walkways.  Often the hoarders are older folks suffering from a mental disorder.  When a fire occurs search and rescue becomes much more difficult because the victims can be overcome by smoke and fumes before they can get out, so they must be rescued and carried out through the mess in very dangerous conditions.   Unlike commercial buildings where businesses must undergo periodic fire inspections, residences have no inspection requirements so these conditions can go unseen for many years.  When firefighters respond to a home, they can’t know what to expect at a home occupied by a hoarder.

Firefighters and their command officers anticipate the “fuel load” of a house meaning what couches, beds and other furnishings do under fire conditions.  Today’s furnishings and building materials have increased the danger to firefighters because more of the materials have a petroleum base and that increases the speed and heat released by the fire.  When the home as 3 or 4 times the amount of normal furnishings, there is a radical increase in the danger and completely changes the conditions firefighters must face in extinguishing the fire.  Windows and exits can be blocked and long burn times increase the potential for building collapse.

If you or someone in your life is a hoarder, don’t ignore the problem.  Click here for some information that may help.

 

 

 

Don’t Worry-Our Ladders Are Safe

I always listen to a radio news channel first thing every morning.  I’m interested in what has happened overnight and how that might play into my upcoming day.  An important story caught my attention this morning:

Fire Fighters Fall 40 feet when bucket drops

The bucket on an aerial ladder failed and dropped 3 firefighters during a training exercise in Georgia.  I found that very concerning since we have 3 trucks with aerial ladders that are in use frequently.  I knew that we had conducted our annual ladder testing on June 17th so I was somewhat confident that we were where we should be.  The City has a huge investment in equipment for the Fire Department and it is our responsibility to maintain it and make sure it is ready when needed and safe for our firefighters to use.

The fire department has over 400 feet of ground ladders and over 225 feet of aerial  ladders which were tested. Along with the annual testing this year, the three aerial trucks had a more  intense five year test. This testing covered structural integrity, heat exposure, and operational  performance. Preventative maintenance on top of the priority  list to extend the life of the equipment and to assure the safety of our firefighters.

The manufacturer of the failed ladders, Sutphen, has issued an alert to take their ladders out of service until they can be inspected since the Georgia incident closely followed a similar incident in Arizona.  In talking with Assistant Chief Macias today, I was relieved to learn that our ladders are not Sutphen ladders.

Example of what can happen.

Example of what can happen.

One less thing to worry about….. 

Leaf Burning Countdown

April 28, 29, 30……on THURSDAY, MAY 1st you’ll be able to start burning:

leaf burning

Days of burning are limited toMondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from May 1 through May 31, and October 15 through November 30.

• Only those people who reside in a single family residence may burn. This does NOT include mobile homes.
• Burning is permitted from dawn to dusk.
• Only small quantities of leaves and brush may be burned. The burning of trash or waste is prohibited.
• Open burning is prohibited within 50 feet of any structure, in right-of-ways, or in roadways.
• An adult must be in attendance of the fire at all times and provide a method of extinguishment such as a garden hose and a metal rake or shovel.
• Please be considerate of your neighbors when burning. If we receive complaints about your fire creating excessive smoke, you may be asked to put it out.

Now you know.  We are tracking our call response.  If you are burning on a day where it isn’t allowed, or at a time of day where it isn’t allowed or burning trash, or any other violation of the ordinance, you’ll get one warning and if there is a second time, you’ll get a ticket.  Follow the ordinance and be considerate of your neighbors.

Can I burn outside in Auburn Hills?

It is the time of year when people are cleaning up their yards from all of the winter debris and this year,  due to the hard winter, there are more downed tree limbs than usual.   Every year this becomes an important issue.  This year we will be citing violators who ignore the ordinance and burn on  days that are not permitted days or permitted times:

Days of burning are limited to Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from May 1 through May 31, and October 15 through November 30.

• Only those people who reside in a single family residence may burn. This does NOT include mobile homes.

• Burning is permitted from dawn to dusk.

• Only small quantities of leaves and brush may be burned. The burning of trash or waste is prohibited.

• Open burning is prohibited within 50 feet of any structure, in right-of-ways, or in roadways.

• An adult must be in attendance of the fire at all times and provide a method of extinguishment such as a garden hose and a metal rake or shovel.

• Please be considerate of your neighbors when burning. If we receive complaints about your fire creating excessive smoke, you may be asked to put it out.

Here is a video from last year that explains it.

In Memory of Firefighter Dennis Dearing

fd patchOn this cold, cold February morning a large group of Auburn Hills Police and Fire Department members gathered in front of our building.  We gathered near a large stone that carries a plaque that memorializes, Dennis Dearing Jr., a firefighter who was killed in the line of duty on this date in 1994.   He was 27 years old.

We never forget.

But we also say – NEVER AGAIN.  We accept that our work is uncertain–we go toward danger as others are going away.  But we do it with care- we train to meet the challenge every day.  Our highly trained and dedicated fire command staff is on every scene and takes hold of each incident to choose tactics that will be effective and safe both for the public and ourselves.  We have appropriate safety equipment and require that it be used.  We study and train to improve ourselves all the time.  Every structure fire is evaluated for performance improvement.

We deeply regret the loss of Firefighter Dearing but his memory urges us forward toward improved performance every day.

Close the Door

Deputy Director Jim Manning came upon this great fire safety video I want to share with you today.   He had been talking with those of us on the police side of the building about how we can help the firefighters and protect ourselves by remembering to close doors at the scene of a fire.  Both police and fire respond to a reported structure fire and because officers want to be helpful, they will do things like hold a door open to allow the firefighters access.  In fact what they are doing is allowing more oxygen in which feeds the fire and creates more dangerous conditions.  It is about a 20 minute video so you’ll want to have some time to watch it but it is good information.