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The recent MayDays that have occurred in Brooklyn New York City and Springfield Pennsylvania have highlighted many things. There will be the Monday morning quarterbacks and the official analysis from the respective departments. There should be no surprise to any of us that there has already been a lot said and discussed on the social media sites. There is one specific item that I am here to discuss and to peak your interest in. I am hopeful that you will consider my points, look at your departments and if necessary, make a change. I must first start by saying my prayers are with the firefighters and their families as ultimately that is what is most important.

There have been some comments on the social media sites that have addressed the fire dispatcher’s role. There have been many comments of praise and kudos for their calmness and effectiveness of handling the incident. However, there are those comments where individuals are criticizing their Fire Dispatchers and indicating they couldn't’t handle a MayDay. These are the comments that this blog is focused on.

Our Fire Dispatchers are often the neglected members of our team. We rarely pay them any attention, except when we are blaming them for “their mistakes”. However “their mistakes” are actually our mistakes!

The Fire Dispatchers are part of our team that we rarely if ever take the time to educate and include in our training. Take the Mayday; we have all trained through repetition our LUNAR procedures and our IC’s have practiced and reviewed their SOP’s. But, have we ever discussed LUNAR with our fire dispatchers?  Do they know what your PASS device and a low air alarm are and what they sound like?

There have been MANY documented Mayday’s that have been transmitted on the wrong frequency. There are also the Maydays that have not been heard by the IC but, have been heard by the Fire Dispatcher.

Your Fire Dispatcher may be the only one who hears and receives your last call for help. Wouldn't’t you want that dispatcher to understand what you are talking about? Too often we are quick to point fingers and criticize. I was happy today to see some Fire Dispatchers being recognized for their positive actions not blaming them for “their mistakes”.

Thanks to Penwell/Fire Engineering to being proactive and planning for the next round of training materials to assist us all in going home. There have been many people today who have asked that their dispatchers be trained to handle the Mayday and other critical tasks that they are responsible for. Well, I have news for you. Ask and you shall receive.

Frank Ricci and I just completed filming last week for this exact training DVD. We filmed footage for Handling the May Day for the Firefighter and Officer and Handling the MayDay – The Fire Dispatchers Role. Yes, Penwell/Fire Engineering along with Frank and I will launch these DVD’s at the only place to be April 16th to 21st; FDIC.

Please don’t point fingers at your fire dispatchers. Critique, perform Quality Improvement (not assurance, that’s another article) look for areas of weakness and improve on those. Include your fire dispatchers in your training as they are and should be considered part of the team.

Always remember your last call for help may only be heard by a dispatcher. Train them, train them right as they may be the difference in your IC getting the right information so you’re RIT can rescue you quickly and you can get home to those important ones, your family.

Together, lets go make it safe!

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Comment by Jim Duffy on December 26, 2011 at 4:26pm

Thanks for getting this message out     Telecommunicators (dispatchers) have always been the abused step child of the fire and police service. We are quick to blame  them for percieved errors. But if we do not train them it is entirely our fault.

These folks can be our greatest assets if we tell them what we need and not just hope  they know what we want. Hope is not a plan!

Comment by Jason Hoevelmann on December 21, 2011 at 5:27pm

Well done!  Can't wait to see the material.

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