As some of you know I was in the fire department for a short time. I still get emails from one of the "industry" magazines. Right now the magazine (Firehouse) is sponsoring a fire service convention in San Diego. Like any industry convention they have several speakers. Yesterday, Northwest Fire/Rescue District Battalion Fire Chief Stu Rodeffer, Fire Chief Jeff Piechura and Firefighter Tony Compagno, a first due / on scene firefighter paramedic, held a class/seminar regarding the shooting of Former Rep. Giffords and the others at the Tucson shopping center.
Firefighters are always on the lookout for information that will help them do their jobs better and will always share lessons learned from incidents they respond to. The fire chiefs and firefighter discussed not only the incident but fallout and aftermath that affected the department for months after.
Some positives during the response was that it was during shift change so more fire department resources were available to respond and that the fire department and the local police and sheriffs department had developed a friendly working relationship which allowed both departments to work together and be able to do their required tasks without getting into turf wars or other infighting. Another positive was that the location of the incident, a shopping center, brought out other professionals, including doctors and nurses, that were offering assistance and had already providing first aid to the victims.
A couple of negative lessons learned were that helicopter life flights are not always the fastest way to remove patients. There is a preflight and startup time for the helicopters to get airborne and that is time that can is wasted. The most critical patients ended up going by ground ambulance because the patents could get on the move and be treated enroute much faster. The other problem was that, being a major crime scene, the FBI, once on scene required everything to be left in place. According to Battalion Chief Rodeffer:
“We had 60 percent of our gear in there for the whole region and we couldn’t get it out,” Rodeffer said. “I had some choice colorful words for the FBI agents, and was I was told to not talk to the FBI any more and let the chief do it,” Rodeffer said.You can check the link as to the deal that was made to free the equipment from the FBI lockdown.
An interesting fact was that the department personnel cleared up the rumor that Rep. Giffords was given special treatment. She was one of the first to leave the scene because of the head wound, nothing more.
The below link was the first report from the incident commanders at the scene and it describes their actions and lessons learned from the incident.
It is a pity that so many in the government want to destroy the fire departments, as well as other public safety agencies even though they provide the means to save lives and property with skill, knowledge, and courage that the politicians can't comprehend.