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Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

Reno air crash highlights importance of preplanning

MCI response reminded me again about the continual importance of educating citizens about our departments' capabilities and limitations

By Adam K. Thiel

Editor's note: A 10th person has died from injuries suffered Friday in the nation's deadliest air racing disaster, a crash that also sent about 70 people to Reno-area hospitals. The response by local agencies highlights lessons for us all to learn, says Chief Adam K. Thiel.

Unfortunately, the life loss from this tragic event continues to rise.

The day of the incident, I received an email from an acquaintance who was seated in the grandstand right next to the impact zone.

His note described the initial chaos of the scene, as bystanders and first responders teamed up to treat the injured.

He also mentioned the absence of a significant fire as a critical factor in limiting the number of casualties from what could have happened in an even worse situation.

It was interesting to read his impressions of the local fire and EMS agencies' response to this major MCI, reminding me again about the continual importance of educating citizens about our departments' capabilities and limitations.

As I watched the video footage of the crash and subsequent response, I couldn't help but think back to preparing for a much smaller airshow (albeit one that still included the Navy's Blue Angels and many vintage warbirds) in a jurisdiction where I used to work.

Several times during the preparation for that event we were accused of "over-planning," adding "too many resources" (additional cost), or focusing too much on an "unlikely" (worst-case) scenario.

I wonder what they would have said if something like this had happened?

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel FireRescue1's editorial advisor is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.



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