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I have noticed that many of my stories, and those of others have a happy ending because of a "Plan B."  What if Plan B doesn't work?  Has anyone done any planning for those low percentage and high visibility calls when all the stars align just right and you are presented with a major fiasco?

Case in point the December 26-27, 2010 snow storm that hit New York City.  Twenty plus inches of snow blanketed the city with amounts exceeding thirty reported in Northern New Jersey.  This is a Plan B occurrence. But when did it change to a C,D, or E?  When buses unable to move clogged the streets?  When there were ambulances and fire trucks stuck in the street?  When firefighters had to walk a block into a scene because of all the abandoned vehicles stuck in the street?  When priority streets called arteries were not even continuously plowed?  When 1300 EMS calls and an unknown number of other emergency calls were backlogged waiting for any unit to become available to take them (NY Post, NY Times, Phila. Inquirer)?

How do you plan, and what do you do when it's your town or city?  I don't want this to become a Seven Step Process or selecting the best choice technique review.  I just want to get the ball rolling for a discussion of what if based on current events.  A simple way to include all levels of the group and have everyone learn something about abilities and capabilities.

I have long ago forgotten the terminology for sitting around and blurting out the first thing that comes to your mind when a problem or "opportunity" is discussed.  "No answer is wrong, just shoot from the hip."  Then someone writes down the answers and later they are sorted.  At the firehouse it is called the kitchen table.

Here's the way our discussion went.  What if we got 20 plus inches of snow?  I'd ski to work!  I'd find my snow shoes.  I'd probably end up here for a few days.

What about as far as the department?  Well. we have two four wheel drive ambulances.  The medics have a Suburban.  What if there are more than two calls?  We could take the squad it has four wheel drive.  We have those John Deere Gators we use for brush fires.  Yeah, and don't forget the snowmobiles.  Where are they stored?  What if we have a fire too?

You get the idea.  It's not a scripted show.  Talk, remember, relate.  We can see what didn't work on the TV and in the newspapers.  You can literally go as far as you want with this incorporating outside equipment and setting up unified command etc.  Just like the table top exercises that the training and planning guys do just on a different level.

Don't just sit there and say I'm glad it's them and not us.  Maybe you'll even get to Plan F.

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Comment by Brad Hoff on December 30, 2010 at 5:00pm
I remember my days as a young man growing up in South Central PA and how high the snow can get! Snow plows on department vehicles, chains on all the heavy and plow vehicles and of course snowmachines to get you there. I find the same thing applies in Alaska but on a much bigger and longer scale. Nothing much can come our way that we don't account for as firefighters who work to stay on the top of our game and that's why a majority of us are on here and engulf ourselves with "KEA". Especially living in an extreme arctic climate we realize pumps and people freeze at 20 below and even worse at 40 or 60 below whether it's a fire or an accident. So we have big heaters and and hot air hoses, tarps and gloves. Our worst nightmares are warm weather up towards the plus 30 degrees during the middle of winter and whenever we get rain or sleet. Our schools stay open at 40 below but when we get 30 degrees above and rain... for us it's like them getting snow in Altlanta or Charlotte or Miami and Dallas...things come to a complete stand still and so do we! I have been on numerous calls where even getting there on a snowmachine was risky because the road was a complete sheet of ice!

I agree that we must provide our best and plan for the worst no matter how far fetch3ed it may seem at the time. History has proven that we must be "Forever Vigilant" and be ready to do what it takes to make a difference no matter how many agencies we need to call, we can get it done!

Here is to a Happy, safe, well pre-planned and prepared New Year!

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