Report released on Contra Cost firefighter's deaths

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linuxwrangler

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SCPD

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Thanks for providing the link to this report. When I get time I will read the entire report. You describe a "perfect storm" of various factors. The last report I read concerning fatalities on a wildland fire was in regards to the Esperanza Fire of 2006 near Banning on SRA lands. An entire engine crew died while trying to provide protection for one structure. As I read the report it became obvious that less than a half dozen factors had to line up just the way they did in order for the accident to occur. This is so often the case where any factor, by itself, would not have resulted in the accident, but the sum of a few did. When you refer to this "perfect storm" I would imagine that the same principle was present in this unfortunate event in Contra Costa County.
 

af5rn

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Not surprisingly, they missed a big one in their recommendations: GET OUT OF THE EMS BUSINESS AND LEAVE IT TO THE PROFESSIONALS WHO REALLY WANT TO DO IT! By trying to be all things to all people, they end up doing a half-arse job (at best) on each job, instead of focusing on one job and doing it well. Consequently, you end up with understaffed apparatus, and apparatus tied up on medical runs they have no business screwing with in the first place, when they could be out doing something well, like, oh I dunno, maybe FIGHTING FIRES?

I dread every night I go to sleep in Kalifornia because of this sort of madness. :roll:
 

mdulrich

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GET OUT OF THE EMS BUSINESS AND LEAVE IT TO THE PROFESSIONALS WHO REALLY WANT TO DO IT!
And who are these "professionals"? The people who are only in it to make a buck? And who said the fire service doesn't want to do it. Studies have shown that fire service based EMS provide top quality service with the best response times.

Mike
 

af5rn

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And who are these "professionals"? The people who are only in it to make a buck?
A buck is the only reason the fire service is in EMS. EMS is nothing but a budget doubler for them.

And who said the fire service doesn't want to do it.
Oh, about ninety-five percent of the fire medics in the state of Kalifornia, who went to the fastest, easiest medic school they could find only so they could get a fire job. Had it not been a requirement for employment, you can bet they would never have chosen to be a paramedic.

Studies have shown that fire service based EMS provide top quality service with the best response times.
Nonsense. Response times are only good because they stop the clock when a fire apparatus hits the scene. Do that with a third-service system and you still get the same results. The difference is, you have people who actually want to practise medicine doing the job, instead of rookies who went to a 13 week tech school, who are just paying their dues until they can get off of the ambulance, which they never wanted to be on in the first place.

Fire based EMS contributed to the loss of four lives in Contra Costa this time. What an excellent move that was.
 

rdale

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Not surprisingly, they missed a big one in their recommendations: GET OUT OF THE EMS BUSINESS AND LEAVE IT TO THE PROFESSIONALS WHO REALLY WANT TO DO IT!
I didn't read the whole report so help me out - where / how would that have changed the outcome?
 

Eng74

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Not surprisingly, they missed a big one in their recommendations: GET OUT OF THE EMS BUSINESS AND LEAVE IT TO THE PROFESSIONALS WHO REALLY WANT TO DO IT! By trying to be all things to all people, they end up doing a half-arse job (at best) on each job, instead of focusing on one job and doing it well. Consequently, you end up with understaffed apparatus, and apparatus tied up on medical runs they have no business screwing with in the first place, when they could be out doing something well, like, oh I dunno, maybe FIGHTING FIRES?

I dread every night I go to sleep in Kalifornia because of this sort of madness. :roll:
I do not see where having paramedic engines was a cause in this. I know more paramedics that are on ambulaces that do their job as you put it "half-arse" than any Firefighter/paramedic or Firefighter/EMT. Understaffed apparatus happen no matter if they are a BLS or an ALS Fire Department. If you read the report it comes down to bad communications (the hand off of the IC), and not following SOP's. The ball was dropped by the alarm company at the start. They new they had a fire from their customer yet they reported it as only an alarm activation. I will bet that 90% of the paid departments run the call the same way that Contra Costa Fire did with no report of fire send in the first in untill you get more information. You sound like someone who could never pass the test or background checks to get on with a department. Tell you what I would love to live in your perfect world where the FD only does fires and there are enough ambulaces to run all of the EMS calls that come in. I bet there five on each engine and six on each truck and the ambulances have two paramedics and an EMT. I bet there are no taxes, the roads are perfect, the school system only has 20 kids in each class and funding for all the progams everyone wants is not a problem. Please send me the information on where to send in to get a job there.
 

af5rn

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If you read the report it comes down to bad communications (the hand off of the IC), and not following SOP's. The ball was dropped by the alarm company at the start. They new they had a fire from their customer yet they reported it as only an alarm activation.
Actually, if you read the report, it lists quite a few factors that contributed to the disaster. All I did was mention one that they left out. I never said it was the one and only factor.

You sound like someone who could never pass the test or background checks to get on with a department.
And you sound like an eat-up rookie who makes some pretty ignorant assumptions about people you don't know. I am a former professional firefighter-paramedic with one of the largest departments in the country, probably since before you were born. I've seen what a joke fire-based EMS is from the inside.

Tell you what I would love to live in your perfect world where the FD only does fires and there are enough ambulaces to run all of the EMS calls that come in. <snip> Please send me the information on where to send in to get a job there.
Thanks for perfectly illustrating my point for me. Just like you, the great majority of those firemen who are stuck being paramedics have no desire to do so. Not exactly the attitude I want behind the needle working on my family.

Not only does it result in sub-standard EMS, but as this case illustrates, it also compromises fire protection and life safety. The only winner here is the FD budget and the IAFF jobs.
 
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How many other people in the fire service agree with you? I know that in the city of Glendale in the past 10 years, the fire department did some extensive work to show the city council that they could provide better EMS service at a lower cost than AMR was at the time. A good friend of mine is a truck captain on the Glendale FD and related this to me. Overcoming the council's bias toward the old myth that contracting out services is always more efficient was difficult for the FD. If they hadn't wanted it they would not have worked so hard to get it. The Glendale City Council decided that the FD had done a good job of presenting their case and ended the contract with AMR, and the FD began providing EMS.

The only other experience I can relate is the outstanding care my elderly mother received when she fell and broke her hip in the back yard of her home in the City of Los Angeles. The paramedics not only saw to her care, they knew she would be away from home for quite some time. They had the engine crew secure her home for an extended absence on her part and made sure her house keys were placed with her personal property so that she could get back in once she was out of the hospital. The physicians who treated her for the fracture also praised the way the LAFD paramedics transported her and told me that this was not unusual for the LAFD.

While I don't live in Los Angeles or have the experience with a large municipal fire department as you say you do, these two stories came to mind when I read your posts.
 

mdulrich

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The closest fire engine was tied up on an EMS run, meaning the third closest apparatus was the first in, creating a time delay.
It took 7 minutes to dispatch E70 to the fire alarm call instead of the shorter time and more resources that would have been dispatched had the alarm company called on the emergency line and reported a confirmed fire. It took nearly 4 more minutes to determine they actually had a structure fire and upgrade the response.

The closest engine (E68) wasn't dispatched on the fire alarm and this was pointed out in the findings and recommendations. It was dispatched on the residential fire call, but then canceled when E73 became available even though it was closer than other responding units. E68 finally responded on the second alarm.

E73 arrived on-scene 32 seconds behind E70. The alarm company had much more to do with the outcome of this fire than providing EMS service.

It is a fact of life that sometimes units will be tied up on other calls. The engine could have just as easy been out on a car fire or investigation. Using your figures, the FD's budget has been doubled because they provide EMS service. With half their current budget they wouldn't have the manpower or resources they have today and this would have caused an even greater delay.

Mike
 

mdulrich

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Not only does it result in sub-standard EMS, but as this case illustrates, it also compromises fire protection and life safety. The only winner here is the FD budget and the IAFF jobs.
So you are saying without EMS, that the FD budget would be decreased and IAFF jobs lost that there would be a lot less firefighters on the job. Yeah, that sounds like a winner. :roll:

Mike
 

MCIAD

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I debated jumping into this or not, but I was hurting myself trying to hold it all in, so here goes . . .

The Department I work for has 3 Paramedic Squads and 7 Paramedic Engines, out of a total of 31 County Fire Stations, all the rest of our Engines are BLS (EMT-D's). Serving the County Areas, the Private Ambulance Co's (3 of them) have a total of 19 Paramedic Ambulances.

Sounds like a good ratio, right - except at any given time during the course of the day, we may be down 2 or 3 ambulances for Private Interfacility Transports (you know - where they earn their profit). Then there are the "details" to their Company HQ's for paperwork, training, whatever. Then, of course, there ARE the 911 calls that require transport. That takes an amublance out of service for up to an hour at a time. It is not uncommon to be down to 1 or 2 Ambulances in any one City or County area, and yet there are still 4 or 5 Engine Companies available for immediate response, with ETA's in excess of 5 minutes faster to any location over the ambulance. That is not saying the Ambulances Co's are not living up to their end of the contract, it is just the way it is. And make no mistake, Private Ambulance Co's. ARE IN IT TO MAKE A PROFIT!

THAT is why most modern FD's have taken over the the EMS 1st Responder role. They just get there faster, and while getting there fast does not always make a life-or-death difference, sometimes it does. And if someone is alive today because an Engine Company, with medics "who went to the fastest, easiest medic school they could find only so they could get a fire job." then what is the issue there - they did the job they got hired to do. If going through Medic School was the route they took to get the job most Firefighters want from the time they are 10, then great - they made a difference.

I am going to say one more thing - I have worked with EMS folks who are dead-set against the FD's having any part of EMS. For the most part, the are (forgive the term) wanna-be Firefighters who just never get picked up for one-reason-or-another. Then for some reason, they become anti-FD, and should an Engine Co. beat them into a medical aid, think it is their God given right to walk in and save the day from these "firemen who are stuck being paramedics have no desire to do so". Their training is no better and no worse, but their attitude is just bad, and THAT makes all the difference in working relationships between ALL the 1st responders. And that can effect the care a patient receives.

Fortunetly, my Department and the Private Ambulance Co's that service our areas work very well together, and very rarely do we see this kind of problem.
 

RolnCode3

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After reading the vast majority (and skimming over some of it), I must say two few things:

1) This was not a "perfect storm" of mistakes. There were several common, easily made mistakes that contributed to this. Not listening to the radio/missing traffic. Equipment marked one way, but calling itself something else. People failing to follow policy. Not updating on the radio what is occurring and changes in command. Some of the mistakes are usually just inconvenient. Some would usually just get someone hurt. But a few came together to cause the deaths. But I don't think it was some inordinate number of mistakes or the planets aligning. It was just an unlucky day for the people involved and the agency.

2) Even if you never hope to fight a fire or be a medic, you can learn from this. Anyone in emergency services should read this and take note of the generalized recommendations and findings. We all make these mistakes, but in this case it caused 2 FF fatalities...

I hope they do implement the recommendations, and learn from this. I hope those involved have been able to continue on to do the memory of the two proud.
 

Wilrobnson

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Such an alien concept to me...In my area, ALL F/Fs are at minimum EMT-Bs, and a vast majority are paramedics. Private ambulance companies here exist to transport FD cleared patients to the hospital, or for inter-facility transports and other non-emergency purposes. In ALS cases, 9 times out of 10 the FD paramedic units do the transports. The few private ambulance companies we have do run EMTs or paramedics, but only as stated above....You can't even get the EMT training here as Joe Shmuckatelli, you have to be sponsored through it by an FD or private ambu company.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medic_One

King County Medic One units are dispatched in a tiered order. Dispatchers receive 911 calls and, using established protocol, input data into a computer-aided dispatch system, which dispatches the nearest appropriate unit. It may be an engine company (BLS unit) only, or a BLS unit with an ALS unit. The BLS unit almost always arrives first and can stabilize the patient until the ALS unit arrives.

Most BLS and ALS units will transport the patient to the nearest hospital or trauma center. Often, depending on the initially responding units, where the patient wants to go, and the fire department that responds, a private ambulance company will be summoned.
 
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MCIAD

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Yea - in our County, there are no FD Ambulances, ALS or BLS. We have three Private Ambulance Co.'s that provide transport services, and on calls where there are no Fire Medics O/S first, are the primary ALS providers, which is the majority of the time. These same ambulances that are in the 911 system, are also doing the inter-facility transports, special details (covering HS football games, dirt tracks races, etc.), and any other contracted need the Co. has. That always takes them out of our 911 system and makes them unavailable for emergency responses.

All of our FF's are at least EMT-D level, and as I said above, we do have several Medic Engines and 3 Medic Squads.

On a side note - Ventura City (one of our dispatch customers, but their own Department) tried several years ago to begin transport services for their city by placing 3 Medic Ambulances in service. AMR took them and San Bernardino City (who was attempting the same thing) to court over Franchise laws and other legal mumbo-jumbo and won. Ventura and San Brdo' were forced to quit transporting patients. Now all 6 Ventura City Engines are ALS, as is their 1 Truck Co., but AMR has exclusive transport rights.


Take that for what it is worth. I am not saying it is better or worse - but that is the way that it is.
 

af5rn

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Hmmm... trying to figure out how this conversation has anything to do with private ambulances. I never said anything about private ambulances.

Regardless, I don't care who the medics are, so long as that is the job they actually want to be doing, and they are adequately educated and prepared for the job. Neither of those prerequisites commonly exist in most fire-based EMS systems.
 

Grog

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The closest fire engine was tied up on an EMS run, meaning the third closest apparatus was the first in, creating a time delay.

What if they had been on a fire related call? Would that make you feel better? :roll:
 
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