Tuesday, December 21, 2010

This just makes me ANGRY!

Very Angry indeed. I usually don't comment on the stuff that shows up on the other blogs and draws a lot of comments from other bloggers, but his one got me going and I see too few postings expressing the outrage I feel.
 In case you missed it last week, got to this post on Statter and check out the video report about a Firefighter in Grafton, VT..
 Have we forgotten why we are here and why we exist?!
 Have we forgotten why we train and practice?!
 I expect the media to be uneducated, ill-informed talking heads (sorry Dave, present company excepted) but this Firefighter's Chief REALLY dropped the ball.
 Basically he took the 'Well, what he did was wrong, but he got lucky and it all turned out okay. We'll let it slide this time' type of approach. He tried to make it clear to the public that Firefighters are not supposed to do what they believe is right unless they have all the tools, toys, and people available.
 Let me make my personal opinion clear here: THAT IS BULLSHIT! THIS GUY IS A HERO AS FEW OF US CAN CLAIM. HE MADE A DECISION TO RISK HIS LIFE TO SAVE ANOTHER. END OF DISCUSSION. It was his life, he made the choice, and yes, he got lucky. If he didn't get lucky, and he perished, my opinion would not change.
 Now don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting we should all throw our lives to the wind on poor decisions, in untenable conditions. What I am strongly trying to remind everyone is that we need to do a proper risk assessment, run all the variables through our heads, weigh it against our knowledge and training, and do what we believe we can do. We need to be thinking well. I wrote a little about my thoughts on this last year.
 Were I in that man's boots, I hope I would have had the courage to do the same and not have heard a little voice in my head saying "oh, that is dangerous, you know you shouldn't do that, wait for the trucks and your PPE to arrive." The victim would have certainly succumbed by then.
 Nobody expects a Firefighter to lay down his life for others. That decision lays strictly with the individual. There is no shame when he or she decides not to, and there also should be no shame when he or she decides it is worth the risk. Neither should there be any punishment either way.
 Because I am not a fast thinker, I have given this a lot of thought over the years in the event that I am ever confronted with this difficult decision. I have concluded that it is entirely my decision and my problem. If I suffer the consequences of an unfavorable result, so be it. I need to do what I can do. That's just me. Your mileage may vary.
 I have had numerous experiences on the training ground where I have held the shoulder of a student's coat while approaching and coaching him/her through a live propane drill (you know, the one with the 15 foot flames shooting everywhere and you are using the fog pattern hose lines to push the flames back so the valve can be shut off?) and felt those students shaking. On one such drill I had a student bail out on the nozzle and almost get somebody hurt. I have been in burn buildings and had students try to rip off their masks and get out under heavy smoke and fire. I have pulled several out that have panicked. I understand that not everybody can do this, and I'm OK with that. I prefer that we find it in training, and not on the job.
 I have seen the look of fear in some eyes when we are at a working fire and I say "OK boys and girls, let's get packed up, we're going to work." We all know that this job isn't for everybody and it takes something a little special.
 So when someone has the confidence and courage to do the right thing, it just burns my ass that the media and even his leadership would second guess him and try to downplay his courage as "breaking the rules".
 That is just bullshit and that's all I'm going to say about it. If you don't agree with me, that's fine, just say so in the comments.

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