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First in? Think First!

We just finished recording the First Few Moments podcast #3 the other night. The topic was So, you're first in...Now what? We had an All-Star cast including Wilma Vinton, Chris Montera, and Kyle David Bates.The discussion was lively...with viewpoints that as vast as the difference between Rochester, NY and Fairbanks, AK. If you haven't checked out First Few Moments, now is the time.

I was asked to chime in and, of course, had my own take on things.

"So, you're first in...Now what?"
  1. First of all, know where you're going before you're first in. Pre-plan (FD is real good with this, EMS not so much) - do you have areas of your district that are notorious for bad thing happening? A place where the bad wreck always occurs...a high hazard area, lots of commercial traffic, hazardous materials, or a roadway location that could impact a target hazard building or site? Tunnels and bridges fall into this category as well, as do locations with poor visibility. Areas that change hazards with the changes in the environment should also be considered. Knowing where your going also means knowing how to get there and get out...alternate routes for both! Table talks on these locations make for great "quick drills" for new members and the seasoned veterans. 
  2. Do something smart with your apparatus. Placement of first in apparatus can make or break the entire event. You can promote scene safety or put responders at risk. Know what other services are responding with department, EMS, law enforcement...and have an understanding of their operational priorities. No, you don't need to know everyone's standard operation procedures, just an awareness will do. Doing so may help prevent conflict and keep you from getting blocked in...or out. Also, when it comes to EMS appatus placement, begin with the end in mind. That is, think about how you're going to get out before you get in. 
  3. And finally; don't just do something, stand there. Take the time to do a good size-up of the situation and report your findings back to the communication center and other responding units. Resist the urge to rush in - prevent tunnel vision - just take the few seconds needed to gain preliminary situational awareness. To be a little more detailed; use the Two x 360 method...a 360 big circle of the event on the ground and a big 360 that looks above and below the incident. Remember, size up is dynamic...and you have to report changes or your findings mean nothing.
A few thoughts on the vehicles involved in a crash: You should always note the type of vehicle and fuel source. Fuel/power sources are always important but even more so when we consider alternate fuels such as hydrogen and hybrid/multiple power sources. Consider also the potential for ancillary hazards...guns, bombs,  and other hazards. Keep in mind that terrorists don't build the bomb at the place they're going to blow up...they make it someplace else and bring it to the target. So it is possible you'll find yourself with an MVC toting an IED!

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