Monday, January 17, 2011

Overheard On The Radio

Engine 38 on scene, we have two cars involved, one with major damage to the front end. Looks like one person still in the vehicle, stand by for further.

Dispatch, Engine 38, we have a total of three patients, one moderate, one major and one minor. Start another engine and an additional ambulance.

Dispatch, Engine 38, I copy Engine 34 will be my second engine. Be advised my first ambulance is on scene.

Engine 34, Engine 38, When you arrive on scene, bring your irons up to my location, I want to you pry this door.

It was at this point that I put my beer down and marked the time on my watch. I wondered how long it would take before the Captain on E38 would request a truck company.  Much to my surprise, the request never came. Whatever plan Engine 38 Captain had worked out proved to be successful.

Personally, even if I thought a door could be popped with a hand tool, I would still holler for a truck, just in case it didn't work out. As a young firefighter, I witnessed old guys prying on a door to no avail. That newfangled DOT pin was just too tough. I saw this more than once. Call it overkill if you want, but I learned from the experience.

I'm not being critical of E-38 Captain, I wasn't there and I didn't see what he saw - I was home, sipping a beer, watching Green Bay kick the crap out of Atlanta. I'm just sayin' that if I can't get into a car with my bare hands, I am getting a line on the ground and am calling for a truck company.

I still will try to get access with a hand tool, especially if I have the people available - I might just get lucky and the door will pop. Probably not though, then I will be a happy captain when the truck pulls up. If we do get lucky, I can always turn the truck around.

On a side note, it's always a good idea to manually unlock the door before trying to open it. I've pulled up on scene a few times, reached in the car, unlocked the door then opened it - all before the crew could get the tools off the truck company. It's awesome, the engine captain is usually embarrassed, my crew is pissed that they unloaded the tools and didn't get to use them and it makes me look good. It doesn't get any better than that.

I'm glad it worked out for Engine 38 though. The captain sounded young, maybe he hasn't been caught short yet. If it does happen to him, he will learn from it, just as I did. I have to tell you, I learn something every day.

That's the nature of my business.

Thanks for reading,


  1. [raises hand]
    Ummm.... Cap... Another question....

    So in KBFPD the engine doesn't carry extrication gear like the jaws? I had figured that some form of hydraulic muscle was part of the basic load out. Or has it been decided that given your more frequent brush fire responses in your area that gear and extra hose for getting into the weeds are more needed on the engine?

    Thanks Cap,

  2. Always learning in this job/field. It makes you better and saves lives and time. Nice post!


  3. BGM - Here's the deal. Hydraulic rescue tools (ie "jaws", hrt)are kind of like jeeps. You buy the jeep, then a lift, a winch , new axles etc. until the vehicle you started out with is barely recognizable.

    With hrt, you start out with spreaders and the power unit, add shears, rams, chains, cribbing and fuel. That takes up a lot of compartment space, which is at a premium with all of the other crap we carry these days.

    We have found that for us, the power tools are a better fit on the truck companies, the heavy rescues and the light rescues. I usually call for the truck first, they need the work. If it is really complex, I'll call for a heavy rescue and all of the goodies they have. The light rescues I'll use for additional spreaders/shears and the staffing.

    We had some small electric powered units on outlying engines for a while, but they were kind of limited in what they could do. That experiment didn't last long.

    Thanks for the comment.

    911 & R - Thanks for the comment. Yup, something new every day.

  4. Makes sense.
    I didn't think of all the ancillary bits and pieces. I guess if I could find a way to easily/cheaply/safely run the Hurst off the engine I could make a small pile of cash.

    Thanks for the continuing education Captain.
    Be warned though, the next question is only a post or two away. :)