I read an article the other day that really made sense. It was a list of items that really hit home, they stuck with me, and they’re really worth repeating. I’d like to broaden the idea a little though. I hope I can do this justice and hopefully save a career by having someone think about this a bit more than normal.
Hugs + Kisses
First and foremost, before going out on any call, always get the hugs and kisses. Heaven forbid, you never know when it could be your last opportunity.
This is not a five second consideration. Safety is the most important fire ground issue and needs to be of the highest priority. It is the responsibility of everyone from the chief, to the safety officer, to the firefighter. If it doesn’t feel right it, it’s probably not right! You need to stop and evaluate on a regular basis despite the orders or the mission. The goal at the end of the day is that everyone goes home to his or her loved ones. The perfect goal is to finish a career somewhat healthy and not dead.
Everyone needs to vent and have someone who really listens. Jack Daniels is not a recommendation… you only get a headache and his direction sucks anyway… the problem will still exist when you get off the couch. Enough said.
Talk To Someone
Every first responder has a bad run and occasionally some are even tragic. We should learn from them, let them go, and move on. If you feel the need and want to talk about it, do it as soon as you can. Don’t let it fester, you won’t feel any better. I personally recommend talking to your partner or crew. Maybe they are having the same difficulties dealing with it too. Hopefully there is good communication and you have these channels within your department. I found this method to be the best, most efficient way to deal with the stress. If you feel this doesn’t help, and the stress continues, talk to your supervisor and they will direct you to more formal counsel or help.
“Let your knowledge and experience of a tragedy enhance your appreciation for everything that you have and the loved ones at home.” –Anonymous
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Chief Hannum began his career with the Whately Fire Department Muster Team. He travelled across the northeast and competed in many events. The team was very successful and took countless wins. In 1973 he enlisted in the United States Air Force as a Fire Protection Specialist. His training and experience propelled him into the civilian fire service. In 1978 he became an EMT, an Intermediate in 1986, and an EMT/Paramedic in 1994, and is a practicing medic presently. Furthering his career in 1982, he worked for the Amherst Fire Department and received his training from the Massachusetts and National Fire Academies. He has also served as the president of the Firefighters Local 1764 for 5 years. John was appointed Fire Chief of Whately Massachusetts in 2003 where he still is today.