Carry extra turnout gear in your privately owned vehicle
I was driving with my family last week on a cross-country vacation when we witnessed an SUV's tire blow out, resulting in a three-car accident. I stopped the car, told my family to stay in it and asked my wife call 911 to report the accident. Before approaching the accident site, I opened my trunk to get my personal jump kit and to suit up in my personal extrication gear. When I got to the three cars, I identified myself as an off-duty paramedic and found the four patients had been restrained and were uninjured. However, one of the cars burst into flames. I moved the four to a safe location and asked other motorists to help close the two-lane highway.
I thought afterward how the scene could have been different had I not a) slowly approached the scene, and b) not been in PPE. What if the vehicle had burst into flames while I was near it?
Ask your departments if they will be cycling out any turnout or extrication gear, and if so, see if you can purchase it (or have it donated to you). Be sure that it is still in relatively good condition. Or, go through your department to purchase such gear. I love the wildland fire gear for extrications. Also, be sure that the gear is well marked, showing your level and the state for which you are licensed. When obtaining a helmet, make sure it is also marked. Consider carrying extrication or leather gloves and boots in your car. These all keep nicely in a duffle right next to the personal jump kit that each member of a department should have. It isn't unheard of for departments to build you a jump kit or give you the supplies you need for that jump kit.
The only thing that I didn't have — that I got for about $12 at Target — was a vehicle fire extingisher. Flares or traffic triangles are also helpful to have in your privately owned vehicle.
Thanks, and good luck on the next call!
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