It would be most appropriate to kick off this blog in review of the first step in the 911 activation system. The page to the fire department from dispatch. Included in the page, dispatch provides the address, any special directions and information from the RP (reporting party). This is where firefighters can get in trouble.
Recently, the F.D. was paged for a victim that was, “feeling ill with troubled vision.” To us, it was just another medical call and we all jumped in the rescue engine thankful to have this season’s flu shot. On the way we were all mentally preparing for your typical sick patient who needed to get to the hospital, however we weren’t fortunate.
We arrived to find the patient on the floor, pulseless and not breathing. It took a brief moment to realize it was a completely different type of medical call than what dispatch had provided. We quickly realized this and changed our role as a provider while sending a firefighter out to grab the additional equipment that was then needed.
Had we been paged for a pulseless, unconscious patient our response and assignments would have changed to better be prepared upon arrival to the scene. There is no one to blame, as the reporting party is usually a friend or loved one to the patient, they don’t know what is happening to the victim. We receive information on what is their best guess.
Seasoned firefighter or part time volunteer, I urge you to keep you and your fellow firefighters to maintain an open mind when receiving a dispatch. That 3AM smoke check that we all drag our feet to can always be a fully involved structure fire. Be ready for it. Take every call with the worse possible scenario and never assume the information given to you is correct. With that mindset you will always be prepared for the worse.