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Brothers and Sisters,

What a perfect day to sit down at the keyboard and write about this year. It’s December 7, Pearl Harbor day. Thank you all veterans for what you’ve done for our country.

As most of you know, I battled prostate cancer this year (surgery in March) and am very happy to report the blood tests are coming back clean. Like the folks who lived in Pearl Harbor and persevered through the attack and never saw it coming. I was back in the O.R. three times since March due to complications from surgery but nonetheless, I’m here to complain about it. Add to this my older sister has stage 4 lung and bone but as she put it, “the doc said that stage 4 isn’t necessarily a death sentence anymore.” To prove that out, she’s responding very well to her chemo treatments, tumors are shrinking and/or leaving. Three cheers for modern medicine. What a year!

As the year progressed we saw much of the same thing in the fire world. Fires, EMS calls, MVA’s and the usual except that we also saw the worst of mankind in Las Vegas, Georgia, California and across the country. As of November, there were 317 mass shootings in the United States. Is this becoming a new part of the mission? Should we be training for MCI’s? Specifically for gunshot wounds? Should we be doing tactical training with our counter parts in Law Enforcement? Should we be budgeting for new styles of PPE? At my last gathering of fire service professionals (Occupational Cancer Symposium-Phoenix, AZ) I saw a vendor showing a turn out coat with a built-in Kevlar vest. Has it come to this? I’m not sure if it’s a priority but I will say that we need to start paying attention to it and training will be the key. The best example I witnessed this year was the Las Vegas shooting. Shortly thereafter, I then spoke to a Clark County Fire Captain. He told me they had trained for two years with mutual aid fire departments and the police, thinking (knowing) Las Vegas would be a target some day. They were ready. So, as I attend meetings with my police department, we continue to discuss and plan for a real bad day. You should be doing this too.

As we head in to the New Year, we all know the future is uncertain but I know the fire service will rise to the occasion as it’s always done. We have overcome the darkest days in the country’s history in terms of civilian tragedies like the Cocanut Grove Night Club fire in Boston, the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire in Southgate, Kentucky, and the Station Night Club fire in West Warwick, Rhode Island. We’ve also risen against fire service tragedies such as the 23rd Street fire in New York City, the Cold Storage Warehouse fire in Worcester, MA and September 11, 2001, also in New York City.

For 2018: Be smart, be careful, work safely, get a thorough physical and act on any anomalies, study, read, train, train and train.

A happy, healthy holiday season and a SAFE New Year to all,

Ronnie K

PS-This journal entry made in fond memory of Chief Alan Brunacini. RIP Chief.

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