Melissa Rivord Public Safety Planner
Responding to reports of burglary. Providing emergency medical care. Fighting fires. Metropolitan Washington’s police fire and rescue personnel run into danger when everyone else is running out their own safety often an afterthought to the mission at hand. The profession’s culture is one characterized by risk and the more one gets used to taking risks the easier it becomes to take a little more. Acceptance of risk can be perilous in a situation in which adverse incidents happen at any time and margin of error is small.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend “Arrive Alive and Survive” a conference sponsored by the MWCOG Fire Chiefs’ Health and Safety Subcommittee that focused on all aspects of successful safety health and wellness programs for emergency personnel. Nearly 100 people gathered to hear keynote speaker Billy Goldfeder Deputy Chief of the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department near Cincinnati discuss the reasons why not everyone always comes home from an emergency response.
Goldfeder is an active proponent of health and safety and advocates regularly for fire services through his blog FireFighterCloseCalls.com. His candid and straight forward approach to safety seemed to appeal to every rank and enforced the importance of standards policy training and leadership. Despite firefighters’ personalities and what they often seem driven to do “there are people in our wallets counting on us to come home” he said. Hasty decisions policy violations and poor command and control can prevent that from happening.
“Arrive Alive and Survive” also included training sessions and issues related to current trends in the field such as dealing with chemical/detergent suicide attempts and incidents involving ethanol. There was even a session that provided guidance and advice for maintaining a healthy lifestyle in a job characterized by shift work long hours on the road and station cooks who wrap everything in bacon! With cardiac arrest being a leading cause of firefighter deaths how one behaves at the station and off duty is just as important as what is done on scene.
Having a law enforcement background this conference offered me a broader perspective and different way of thinking about the jobs so many men and women unselfishly do to ensure the safety and security of those who live work and play in metro Washington.
Posts at The Yardstick often discuss new development or redevelopment in parts of the region that were at one point considered unsafe and therefore not viable for such development. As a result the economic benefits associated with such development were not realized.
Creating safe communities for residents and visitors a goal of Region Forward is an objective that requires the general public elected officials and our dedicated police fire and rescue personnel’s continued hard work and cooperation.