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For many of us the "real world" is not having enough firefighters on duty to safely do the job(s) placed upon us. So much emphasis is placed upon EMS that other parts of our job are suffering. Now, don't get me wrong, a well trained and equipped fire department paramedic is as good as any out there, but making a guy go to a paramedic school in order to get on the job leads to some difficult situations. Of course that is another blog. The rumors and talks of a regional fire department is coming on strong in the Tulsa (OK) metro area. It has it's good points along with some operational hurdles to overcome. The problem is that the demands placed on us is far outgrowing the ability to meet them. We have so much duplicating of resources that leads to inefficiency and waste. Not every single fire department in the state needs a haz-mat team, or a tactical rescue, or special operations team. Lets provide our citizens with the basic services they require first. How about equipping and staffing a full assignment on the first alarm. Only after this is accomplished should a department look to expand into new areas. Of course I like leather helmets, so maybe I am just behind the times.

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Comment by Kristofer DeMauro on May 15, 2008 at 8:43am
Thanks for the input on the blog. reading the post again I may have come along too strong about the point I was working on. I honestly believe that the fire service is changing into a "public health agency" and that is not a bad thing. As a department looks for ways to better serve its citizens, the department must be realistic. Your comment on "juggling other hats" is so very true. We are doing more with less. It looks great from a business point of view, but what is suffering? Can we be all things for all people?
Comment by Peter Lupkowski on May 14, 2008 at 10:18pm
As an Asst Chief in charge of EMS I share your pain. A medic in every seat does not allow any of them to maintain their skills, but a department that does not take advantage of the additional higher visibility of EMS does itself a disservice. We need to support and augment our core mission by including EMS for both the staff and the finances that it provides. The problem with pausing and digesting that before we jump into the next service area is that we have historically risen to every challenge put before us and never looked back. We need norms, benchmarks and planning to present our case that we are good at what we do but are diluted in our ability to do more because we are stretched too thin now. At the very least we can share the pain among local resources by specialization or combination of resources to provide new services (Three guys on each shift are Haz_Mat Techs and combined with the other four local departments you have a team.) But you still don't answer the question. How much is too much? Each locale is different, work with the council, get ahead of the curve and drive the conversation. It never hurts to be perceived as the problem solver and not the problem. I still love leather helmets too, but my Philadelphia Style will have to do while I juggle all my other hats. Good Luck, we're all pullin' for ya'.

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