A Sidekick's Blog

Disaster Drill: Just like Old Times

April 3, 2014
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Law Enforcement escorts a “Walking Wounded” patient

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I observed the Disaster Drill at College of Central Florida today. Every such drill I have ever taken part in always has one common issue: Noisy, clamoring “walking wounded” who get in the way; and the temptation to give them higher priority than more critically injured victims seems to win out. Several “Green-tagged” victims get transported off the scene before “Red and Yellow-tagged” ones do just to get them the heck out of the way. You have Law Enforcement people there, use them to corral these noisy people. Set up a little lemonade stand for them and for goodnessakes, don’t let them wander around talking to the Press! In Triage, you can’t let the “squeaky wheels” steal grease from those who need it far worse.

Multi-agency scenarios bring unique problems when everyone is wearing an orange vest, but what was the Staging officer doing at the west entrance bringing victims out of the building?

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His vest is marked, “Staging.” But he’s at the entrance to the building.

“Oh, I’m not the Staging officer,” he says.
“Where is the Staging officer? Where is the Staging area for that matter?”
“I dunno.”
“Okaaaaay…”

Someone tagged “Medical Supply Officer” wasn’t replenishing medical supplies or seeing to it. He was busy talking to observers – ?

Play the assigned role, don’t “help” the other guys out. If they need more resources, they know to ask for them. If you need them, ask! That’s what Command is for! To get resources to where they are needed. When rescuers start swapping personnel, duties, and supplies to meet immediate needs, the plan falls apart. Command isn’t just there to look pretty. Put those fancy-pants white shirts to work getting you what you need!

No designated rehab area? That’s far too common a mistake, but overworked rescuers quickly become victims themselves, especially in hot weather like today. Assign one Medical Rescue unit to nothing but Rehab and use a PASS (Personal Accountability System) to keep track of rescuers and make sure they don’t become a liability themselves. Like this firefighter:

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The deceased need to be moved out of sight as soon as it’s practical. Don’t let the “walking wounded” and rescuers step over the deceased to get to the Treatment area for goodnessakes. Treat the deceased with dignity as much as possible. I didn’t see any area designated as a temporary morgue at all. Commandeer a refrigerated truck if you have to, but at least don’t let the deceased become a threat to the safety of other victims.

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The Press has telephoto lenses, y’know. And everyone in sight has a camera-equipped cellphone!

Perimeter security. Just thought I’d mention it.

What benchmarks were in use at the Command Post? Not a peep from Command about those… Rescuers were told to stay out of the building until it was safe to enter, but the announcement of that benchmark never actually happened. But there were plenty of rescuers in the building. Were they acting in defiance of orders? When was the Loss Stopped benchmark reached? I guarantee it was later than the rescuers thought.

Very nice job by a Law Enforcement student who had to deliver a baby herself for lack of an EMT in the area. Nicely done, whoever you are! Oh, and a half-dozen EMTs were less than 10 meters away having some kind of confab or something, sorry about that…

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This CJ Student was awesome. I’m sorry I didn’t get video of her performance when the “pregnant victim” was brought out in labor! This hearty soul took it all in stride.

These drills are always a tough learning experience, I know, and everyone worked very hard. But it need not be so confusing. And if it’s this bad at a drill, think about why this stuff matters. I’m talking to officers here (white shirts), not so much the rank-and-file blue shirts.

-Lieutenant Robin Arnaud (Retired),
Broward County Fire Rescue

 


A Brother In Extreme Danger

April 10, 2013
1 Comment

ll his life, my brother has dreamed of being a professional musician. He has the talent for it, but none of the discipline to achieve it. Chronically unemployed and homeless, a life without responsibility is familiar and comfortable to him. A real job and a real place of his own come with the responsibility to pay bills, show up for work when he should, obey his boss, and otherwise fulfill the obligations that inevitably come with independence. Countless times he has been offered a home and job to pay for it, and each time he has sabotaged his own success when the commensurate responsibility required his attention. So, back on the street again, angry and bitter and resentful of the boss who fired him, or the landlord that insisted on being paid rent, or the countless parade of people who finally stopped “helping” him with cash and rides and housing and food when their own money began to run out.

The cycle repeats, over and over again, for nearly 40 years now. But this time the danger to my brother is far greater than just physical or financial. His dream of being “a professional musician” has finally come true. A tiny pseudo-church (arguably illegitimate as a true church) has hired him to be their minister of music.

His heart and mind continue to be consumed by bitterness and resentment of all those who have tried to help him in the past with jobs, financial gifts, housing, job training, transportation, and all the rest. He continues to blame them – especially his own family and churches – for his lifelong chronic homelessness and joblessness and poverty. But now he is in a position of ministry, with his heart still full of venom and resentment towards fellow believers. But this “job” is much more than just a position as a compensated musician. It carries far greater responsibility than just playing the guitar skillfully and delivering a good musical performance. This is not a job as an entertainer, but as a minister!

Even though in my opinion the little “church” that hired him is not a true church, the danger is no less real there because the people who attend services there believe it’s a church and follow their leaders. Being in ministry without the spiritual purity that ministry demands is a frightening prospect. In fact it has been fear of becoming a false minister that drove me to drop out of seminary!

His “professional musician” gig will most certainly be as short-lived as any of his previous jobs. But the responsibility of ministry weighs heavier than any other vocation, demanding much more than just “playing a good song.” And the danger to his soul in the day of judgment is far greater in ministry than it would be if he just played in a local bar. God help him.