From time to time, articles or essays make the rounds through cyberspace that tick me off. What luck there are a couple floating around right now. A dear friend who is a blogger publishes these just to get me mad, I am convinced.
Dave once goaded me into writing a response to a wine maker in the San Francisco area who wrote an editorial about what a cushy job being a 'fire man' is. Mind you he was writing from his private jet en route to his castle in the Italian Alps.
The article makes the usual arguments that nationally there are fewer fires and we have all these fire trucks and firefighters. The long and short of the article is that we (the nation's firefighters) have gotten involved in EMS for something to do.
It says we have been in search of a mission for years. The Boston Globe even goes as far as saying the war on fire has been won.
I wonder if I can get the Boston Globe home delivered; apparently I have missed a lot of news. Has cancer been cured also?
Granted, fires are down. However, I have attended several already this October. I guess the residents hadn't heard that war was over.
They quote several emergency response professors (whatever they do) who cite our involvement in EMS as self-serving, and, of course, rail against the evil 24-hour shift.
Looking back, driving forward
Reading this article I am struck by the fact all the arguments are based on statistical history. In other words, they focus on what has happened rather than what might happen. Let's look at how flawed this mindset is.
The last major nuclear accident in this country occurred in 1979 at Three Mile Island, but we still take great care and precautions with nuclear energy.
Nearly all municipalities have some form of law enforcement agency that protects residents. No politician worth his salt would make a campaign speech without promising more police on the streets.
However, the national crime statistics don't bear this out. The FBI numbers show a decline in violent crime. According to Wikipedia, the crime rate in the United States is as low as it was in the 1960s.
I guess we have defeated crime also.
Now everybody calm down, I don't believe we have enough police. I routinely sit for 20 to 30 minutes waiting on the police at violent crimes.
I am pointing out how ridiculous this logic is. However, since we have not had a hurricane in five years, I am going to drop our flood coverage because it obviously won't happen again.
I got busted in my noncompliant leather helmet the other day and I was issued a new plastic toy one with some Buzz Lightyear flip-down face shield. The problem this caused is that I lost my W6 helmet sticker. So I got online to order another one and found this article by complete chance.
Using my rudimentary computer skills, I have copied and pasted the opening paragraph of the article, which pretty much sets the tone:
"You're having a quiet, leisurely Saturday evening dinner with friends, when one of them passes out. You call 911. Within minutes, a UMass Memorial ambulance arrives. Great. Then, a Worcester Fire Department fire truck shows up. What's that all about? After all, you didn't report a fire.
Wow! How about that? They make us sound like unwanted houseguests. "Oh God, honey it's the fire department. You know they'll never leave."
It's kind of like when Uncle Harold and Aunt Martha show up for the weekend. Harold can't hit the toilet with a guidance system and Martha leaves cigarette ashes everywhere.
The author went on to say Worcester's EMS system is provided by a hospital district and that having a two-prong response is fairly unique around the country. Imagine that: in Worcester if you call 911 for a medical emergency, the fire department also first responds.
Worcester is really on to something. The rest of the country should sit up and take notice. If this wasn't so sad it would really be funny.
I have to say I find this extremely distasteful in questioning the merits of the fire department in all places Worcester, Mass. It should also be noted at the time this article came out the fire department union was involved in contract negotiations — coincidence, I’m sure.
Get there when you can
The opening paragraph makes it sound like the WFD shows up routinely after the fact and never arrives first. Donning my white lab coat and clipboard, I have done some nonscientific research.
In less time than it took for you to read this, I was able to contact the WFD. The good folks there told me that the WFD arrives first at medical emergencies roughly 75 percent of the time. They normally wait for an ambulance anywhere from 2 to 7 minutes.
If all the ambulances are busy, the hospital district uses a private firm as mutual aid. So for a person not breathing, brain damage occurs in 4 to 6 minutes, waiting 7 or longer is not going to benefit anybody but the local mortician.
I don’t really consider myself a journalist; I just babble about things that strike my fancy. I thought, however, when one writes an article about something, that person did some research to get the facts correct.
Do you remember the Watergate movie with Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford? Jason Robards, the editor, was always yelling about sources and confirmation for their stories.
Each one of us who reads this stuff knows the truth, but the average guy who unfolds the morning paper or looks online believes it. That's the real problem here.
Speaking of fire response to medical calls, check out the video in the upper right corner. It shows Rochester, N. Y. Engine 5 crew saving a person in cardiac arrest. Way to go Rochester! Yeah, it does work.
Let me hear from you.
About the author
Will Wyatt, who is originally from New Orleans, has been in the fire service for 25 years. Will currently works as an engineer/operator at the Village Fire Department in the Houston, Texas, area. Will also works part time at another fire department and part time at a 911 emergency medical service. He has held numerous ranks with fire departments in the Houston area including full time training officer, fire marshal and deputy chief. Will holds a master fire fighter certification with the State of Texas, an instructor certification, pump operator certification, an associate degree from Houston Community College and a basic EMT certification. Recently will authored a book on the fire service entitled, "And a Paycheck, Too!" Check out an excerpt here. Contact Will at Will.Wyatt@firerescue1.com.
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Robert AvsecThursday, October 24, 2013 5:12:58 AMWell stated, Will! Now more than ever it's important for Fire and EMS departments to pay attention to "what's being said about them" in the various media. And not just in their home town. Something as simple as an Internet search using the department's name can yield important information that can help them stay ahead of what's passing for "news" these days.
BTW, I wanted to become a journalist after seeing "All the President's Men". Seeing Carl Bernstein (Hoffman) and Bob Woodward (Redford) working diligently to uncover the truth about Watergate was very inspirational. As was the "tough-as-nails" portrayal of Washington Post Editor, Ben Bradlee, by Jason Robard.
As fate would have it, the money ran out before I could get that college degree in journalism. So followed Johnny & Roy into a different career path as a firefighter/paramedic, retiring in 2007 as a battalion chief with the Chesterfield County (VA) Fire and EMS Department. Not a bad detour on the highway of life.
Dirk JaniakFriday, October 25, 2013 10:06:29 PMGood investigative journalism is dead! Long live the short headline that grabs attention and polarizes ....... controlled by government, may it be local, provincial (state) or federal. All we can do as fire service is do our best at all times and win the Punic over by providing outstanding service and educate the citizens we serve!! Support your union to invest in political action ( one of the reasons they want to get rid of unions)
Dirk JaniakFriday, October 25, 2013 10:08:09 PMWin the public over
Johnny A MunchFriday, October 25, 2013 11:34:56 PMTook the words out of my mouth will ,If you don't know what your talking about don't f-ing talk