Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Smoke (Fire) Alarms

Every house should have several smoke alarms. There should be a smoke alarm in every bed room so that when a fire occurs the person in the room is more likely to be woken up. Besides having an alarm in every room there should be at least one alarm on every level of the house and in the kitchen.
Alarms should be tested every month. This is done easily but pushing the test alarm button. If the alarm is not working properly try to change the batteries. The batteries should be changed every time there is a time change, so twice a year.
When testing alarms make sure that everyone in the building knows where to go in case of a fire. Practice getting them to location safely. Also, it is good to have the alarms set off at night once to see if everyone in the house wakes up. If it does not wake everyone up you may want to look in to placing more alarms in the house.
Smoke alarms are not very expensive and some fire departments even give out smoke alarms because an alarm is the first way to get a person notified of smoke in the house, which in an indicator of fire.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Suing problems today.

WoW! There is a lot going on in society today. Everyday people are getting sued for more and more little things. Some people are suing movie producers because of offensive things that were in the movie. Other people are suing people because they messed up their new iPhone. In the EMS field people are getting sued for not doing things the way the patients or patient’s family thinks they should be done. Still others are being sued for a simple recording error.

Many EMS personnel are being sued because of documentation errors. In the emergency world everything must be documented. If you go to someone’s house on a call and they refuse care it must be written, signed, witnessed, and signed by the witness. If a person puts a c-collar on a patient and forgets to document a c-collar was placed on the patient the family can come back and sue by saying the proper precautions we not made in treating the patient. In the emergency world if it is not documented it was not done and that rule follows in court. If someone is suing you and there is nothing you can do to prove them wrong except what you say because you did not document it properly.

Almost all EMS personnel are taught how to properly do paper work by another member of their department or they may take classes on how to document properly. This is becoming a more prevalent issue because people are suing over every issue because they want money.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Incident Command

When the fire fighters arrive on a scene, unless they are in charge, they want to know what they are supposed to do. Fire fighters can guess on what they are doing but will have no clue what their other fire fighters are doing. This is where incident command comes into play.
We need an incident commander to keep track of everything that is going on at a scene. For smaller scenes this is not very hard. However, when we come upon a large fire scene, or a hazardous material site there are several departments and agencies involved. The more people involved the more complicated a scene becomes.
The incident commander(IC) will have chiefs of other departments and the heads of other agencies work under them. The IC will delegate positions to the others like safety, planning, logistics, or many others things. It depends how large the scene is how many people are under the IC. There can be as many as seven, usually three or four are preferred though. Each of the subdivisions that the IC made will have a team of people under them.
Everything that happens under the subdivisions is reported back to the IC by the subdivisions head. As you can tell by reading this it can get very complicated. The most important aspect of having an IC is that there should be good communication. Communication is vital in emergency situations, especially when they are really large.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Emergency! What kind of response do you have when you hear someone yell it out? I bet it adds some stress to your life. That is a normal and expected response.

Hearing the word emergency stimulates many responses in people. Some people flip out, others go into shock, and yet others are not affected until after the whole emergency has passed.

Now this is just the response from everyday people. Now imagine being a firefighter, EMT, or other EMS personnel and the stress present in their lives. Not only do they have regular everyday stress but they have stress from the calls that they respond to. Every call elicits stress for EMS personnel; however, they are trained on how to deal with stress on the job. Also, EMS personnel are told that if they cannot handle the situation to take a step back and let someone else step up and help. For most EMS personnel the stress of the call does not sink in until after the call is over. During the call adrenaline is running and the thoughts of making sure the patients are alright delay the onset of stress. Afterwards EMS personnel will think about the call. Many thoughts may go running through their heads, two common thoughts are: ‘What could I have done differently?’ and ‘Why did this happen could it have been prevented?’.

When the head of an EMS department realizes that a person is getting stressed they will ask the employee if they to take time off, would like a counselor, or may even put them on probation for a few days to where they are not allowed at the department.

Stress seems to be a big reason that EMS personnel take up different careers. A few EMS personnel will say that after a while the stress just does not get to you as much for the basic calls, but it hits you hard when there are calls that go horribly wrong or children are involved. There are consequences to being stressed so stress management is important. It is possible that excessive stress can shorten a person’s life.

Let’s end with a positive note! Everyone gets stressed. Stress in manageable. Take time to yourself, talk about why you are stressed, seek help, and relax.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Seat Belts

Seat belts have become a controversial topic. It is the law that we buckle up. Most law enforcement agencies use the slogan, “Click-it of ticket”. A majority of people do not like being told what they have to do when it deals with safety issues. Some people who buckled up everyday before they made seat belt laws they felt like freedom was being taken away when it became mandatory to wear seat belts.
Most people who are against wearing seat belts use the argument that seat belts kill. This is true seat belts can cause death for a few various reasons. If the seat belt is not properly worn with will not provide the proper restraints but people still say they had their seat belt on. Occasionally the seat belt will pull the car onto the victim, but this has to be a really bad car accident. There are a few other random ways that a seat belt might kill someone but these instances are very rare.
A lot of people do not look at number of times a seat belt keeps are person from being injured seriously or killed. Most car accidents that lack seat belts result in head injuries from concussions to more severe memory loss. A simple seat belt can restrain a person in an accident and keep them from flying through the windshield or being thrown around in the vehicle.
As emergency personnel it is much easier to treat cuts, broken bones, and bruises rather than a head injury where the person may be unconscious. It frustrates some emergency personnel when they respond to accidents where the victims did not wear their seat belts and are now critically injured. Emergency personnel will still treat the patient the same as if they had their seat belts on because it is an accident and everyone makes mistakes.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Basic Ladder Use

Using ladders may sound easy. However there is a lot of work that goes into using ladders properly. The scene must be surveyed to ensure the proper environment for using a ladder. We must make sure that the benefits of using the ladder are greater than the risks for using the ladder. Also, you must be aware of the crew members and who has been trained on the aspects of using a ladder.
First, let’s survey the scene. We have arrived to the scene of a two-story structure fire in the middle of a neighborhood. It is a nice and sunny day. Therefore, the ground should not be soggy which would have caused the ladder to sink into the ground. Also, we will look and make sure the surfaces are sturdy so that they do not move, once the ladder is in place. During the survey we decide what size ladders we need, what tools we need, and how many people we will need for support.
Where shall the ladder be placed? Well the ladder should be placed away from windows and doors. We do not want to put the ladder directly in front of windows and doors just in case the pressure builds up and the windows or doors were to burst out. Next the ladder should be placed against a flat and even edge.
When using an extension ladder we make sure there are three to four steps above the edge of the house. The ladder should be placed at an angle where the person climbing can reach straight out and touch the ladder, while their feet are touching the base of the ladder. Also, before a person starts to climb up the extension ladder, we ensure that the extension has been locked off and tied off, so that it does not come down when are person has climbed up the ladder. The ladder will be supported by a person standing behind holding the edges and pulling towards them self. Sometimes, there are supporters in front holding and putting a boot to the feet of the ladder. The person can now climb the ladder to go and do their job.
A roof ladder is a different ladder. It is like a regular ladder with hooks on the end. These hooks are so that the ladder can attach to the ridge of the roof. A roof ladder is used when a person wants to have more traction or something to hold onto while on the roof. When taking up a roof ladder a person will climb up the extension ladder about three fourths the height of the roof ladder and then will climb the rest of the way with the roof on their shoulder. Roof ladders are very light so a person should not have difficulty doing this. Once the ladder is placed and checked to make that it can handle weight the people will continue with their job.
For the scenario of the house burning, we would have placed the extension ladder on the opposite side of the house from where the fire is the most active. A person would climb up the ladder once it is secured and supported. When closer to the top this person would have another member hand them a roof ladder. This ladder would be secured and then the person on the extension ladder would test the roof ladder by climbing to where they can grab it with a hand to pull and make sure it is on the roof good. Next, the person would gradually put weight on it by climbing over one extremity at a time to ensure the roof and roof ladder can handle the weight. This person would either stay on the roof and wait for the next person to come up with the saw, or climb back down and get a saw. Once the saw is on the roof ventilation will take place and then the ladders will be taken back down and the rest of the work on the scene will take place.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Vehicle Extrication

Have you or a family member ever been trapped inside of a vehicle in an accident? If so, you know what it is like when the fire department is removing a person from a mangled vehicle. It seems like it is going to take forever!
Well extrication does take time. The fire department shows up and they look at the car making sure that it is safe and stabilized. After, stabilization is completed we check on the patient(s). If the patient is all right but trapped in the car we will talk them through the process that we will be doing. However, if the patient needs immediate medical attention we will let the medical team do immediate care to stabilize our patient. Once the patients are stabilized we will place a blanket or a tarp over them. We cover them to protect them from debris while we are cutting on the car.
As the fire department continues to do procedures they keep the patients informed because it is really scary when you hear all of the loud noises and cannot see what they are doing. The fire department labels the posts A, B, C….depending on how many posts there are. Next, they start cutting and spanning areas so that we have room to remove the patient. While a person is cutting there is another person with a rope tied around what is being cut. This person will put tension on the rope pulling away from the car to ensure that when the object is completely detached from the vehicle it does not fall towards the patient. This process continues till the patient(s) are properly removed.
Extrication is a tedious process and must be done correctly to keep from injuring the patient. It does take time, but that time is being used to ensure safety. Next time you or someone you know are being extricated think about this. That time they are taking is for safety of the patient not because they do not know what they are doing. The EMS personnel do not want the patient inside to gain anymore harm.