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At a recent full scale exercise I was the fire controller and an old acquaintenance of my was the evaluator. This was an IED type exercise at a school football game. Initial response was from the Twp. PD who did an excellent job of taping off the area and controlling the scene. The fire department arrived on the scene with a command vehicle, turned on the big green light and never stepped foot in it again. It was hard to watch an incident like this because the safety of responders was in jeopardy all of the time. Although there was an accountability officer, only about half of the responders had tags, consequently it was never clear who was where.
This brings up a huge problem in a mutual aid situation. When you call a mutual aid company for mutual aid, their well being is placed in your hands. But beyond that what that mutual aid company does has an affect on your people. Most areas have a county chiefs association at the very least, take a stand on accountability and Rapid Intervention Teams as well as personal accountability.
While writing the after action report, I did a little research on accountability. I found one piece of software, I'm sure that there are more, that I thought was pretty slick. It's called In Site Accountability System and is presented by Vernon Software. It's very user friendly and compatible with PASS devices. It is also very user definable and easy to use. The developer was very helpful also. Look it up at Vernon Software Systems. I know I mentioned it before,but I think it's good.
But, beyond that, if nothing else, get a legal tablet and keep track of your people, it's not a big city thing.

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Comment by Robert Rhoades on May 25, 2010 at 6:44pm
Hey guys, belated thanks for making a post on this. I've been out of touch again but back on the bandwagon pounding o the drum. Brent, I hope you have progressed from your response but if you haven't.................We had the same problem and although you have a mutual aid agreement, you don't have to call them. We would call one particular dept for station manning and they would send on guy on an engine. So much for Eng. Co. Ops. So we just quit calling them. Like you, we had a couple of departments that used some of our people as instructors and training officers and although it took a while, eventually they all came around. You have to remember, no one likes to look stupid. If you do the right thing, people hear the radio traffic and pretty soon, you hear other people copying what you do. Good luck and I'm going to have a new gig on here pretty soon, so check.
Todd, we also had the same situation as you guys. You are fortunate that you have a good, progressive department with people who want to do the right thing. Until it got going, accountability here was accomplished much as you suggested. Now every department has tags and a board to put them on. Common training on RIT, automatic alarms for mutual aid and things like that have helped a lot. Remember, it usually takes 20 years to fix anything in the fire service. New guys think anythings cool and dont' know any different. The farther down the chain you go, the more resistance you get, but in 20 years those new guys are now the old guys, and the cycle starts over again.

Keep you heads down guy!

Comment by Todd McKee on July 8, 2009 at 6:07pm

One thing that we found use for mutual aide groups that do not enforce accountability, is that we have a dry erase board and a marker to track scene members. It has seemed to work in the past as most rural departments do not have the means of a lap top for software versions. Another, thing I think we forget about on scenes is the proper command staff. I am currently looking into having a command team dispatched on all working structure fires. Let me know what you think! Take care
Your friend

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