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About this blog

Blazing Bricks is a new column specially tailored to the Lego Fire Community. In weekly (or sometimes bi-weekly) editions, I'll be posting advice, tips, and discussion points relevant to our hobby. The first few will be aimed towards our younger and newer builders, focusing on some advice for trucks and fleets, incidents, photography, community etiquette, entering and being a part of the real-life emergency services profession, and more topics as I see them becoming necessary or as they come to mind.

Entries in this blog

JKontoules

It's been quite a while since the last BlazingBricks entry. College and work are a deadly combination in the world of Lego, or other hobbies for that matter.

 

Open Letter to EMS

I'm sure you have all heard about the most recent terror attack in Nice, France. In this blog entry, I'll be discussing what that and other recent attacks mean for us in the world of Fire/EMS. The following  copied from a personal post I made several months ago.

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"Open Letter to EMS"

Now more than ever, we may be called into service off-duty, or even on-duty, around the world, at incidents that years ago we would never have to think about in our daily lives. When we go about our day in our own countries or traveling abroad, we run the risk of being involved in or being witnesses to large-scale incidents like those we have seen in Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino, and others. We as emergency responders must be prepared.

We must be ready to respond and act where and when we are needed, regardless of the circumstances. And to be ready, we must study. We absolutely have to read articles, read our textbooks, watch videos. Review our protocols, train hard and thoroughly. Attend classes and seminars, go beyond just what the job requires as the minimum. Train for MCIs, terror attacks, mass shootings, bombings. There is no such thing as being too prepared in today’s world. Someday, perhaps someday soon, one of us may be a bystander or victim who becomes a first responder to a major incident. And we must be ready.

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"Open Letter to EMS- Orlando Addendum"

We, as emergency responders, are living in a new reality. A reality where we are not safe and must be prepared for, quite literally, anything, at any time. To all the first responders in Orlando, my thoughts are with you. For my colleagues in Fire, EMS, and PD: In short time, they could be us. At any minute, of any day. And we absolutely have to be prepared. San Bernardino, Orlando, Paris, Brussels. This is our reality. This is our job.

Learn, Train, Survive, Save. No excuses.

Now, these may paint a pretty grim picture of the world we live in. But remember, our likelihood of being caught in a terror attack or other major incident is still pretty slim. Higher than ever, but still pretty unlikely. Regardless, we as EMS providers have to keep a heightened situational awareness both at home and abroad.

San Bernardino

The world of Tactical EMS is changing every day. Partially as a result of the San Bernardino terror attack, protocols are beginning to change around the United States for "hot zone" EMS. There is currently a push to get Rescue and EMS into the "hot zone"- an active scene- to provide care and extraction of patients as quickly as possible. Obviously, this is extremely high risk. Nothing is set in stone yet, but be aware of the paradigm shift that may be implemented in coming years.

Dallas

In a post from a Dallas police officer, he quotes, "Fire did NOT get enough credit...they were moving with us in ambulances toward Market St towards the gunfire. Every single time we told them to get out of the shooting zone the driver would just keep yelling "Just tell us where they are," referring to our downed Officers.". Protocol, no. Probably not. But this is the start of the shift discussed above, on a personal level. When it's one of our own, or our brothers or sisters in blue, red, or otherwise, treatment takes on an increased sense of urgency. Keep your wits about you, and treat the injuries just as you would any other patient. Don't get flustered, and do your job.

What Do I Do?

Train. Practice. Know your protocols. Learn new skills. Keep your underutilized skills sharp. Keep your situational awareness up- we are a target too. Bolded, underlined, and italicized to instill just how important it is to remember that. The more knowledge and practice you have, the better you will perform in crisis- On duty or off duty. Additionally, practice using equipment you have at hand. You're out and about, without your rig or EMS bag, and an incident occurs- terror attack, mass shooting, etc. You have just the everyday things you carry on your person- make them work and know what you'd do with each item if the worst case scenario occurs. What do you or I do in that scenario? We do our jobs. Time to go to work.

 

"Learn, Train, Survive, Save. No excuses"

Capt. K out

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James is a 6-year member of the LFC, and currently studies Natural Resources Management at SUNY-ESF in Syracuse, NY. James is a certified Type 2 Wildland Firefighter and Hazardous Materials Technician. James is also a New York State EMT-Basic, and a pending National Registry EMT. James has worked for three fire departments and one EMS agency in his 5 years in emergency services. James is entering his 6th year in Fire & EMS in November 2016.

 

JKontoules

Welcome, Probies!

You've just walked into your fire station on your first day. As an Explorer, Volunteer, or Career firefighter, your career in emergency services begins now. I was there almost 4 years ago. I signed my Explorer Post application, grabbed some gear, and got ready to train for the first time. I knew my responsibilities, I knew the job, and I had the ambition. Here are a few things to expect from your first fire job, and a few things to avoid.

  • Know Your Job: If you're an Explorer or Junior Firefighter, your job is to train and learn. If your post allows you to respond to calls, prepare for that. Train in firefighting of course, but know your BLS skills. More than likely, you'll respond to a good number of medicals before you ever see a fire. If your post does not let you respond, train anyway! That's the job of an Explorer. Know how to take pulses and BPs for rehab. Know your scene assist tasks. 
  • Know Your Rig: If you're responding, you have have have to know your truck inside and out. I recently started at Grand Lake Fire in CO for the summer, and first thing I did, even before being cleared to run calls, was memorize my truck. Start with the things you'll need the most: EMS bags, water and ABC cans, hand tools, ground ladders, preconnects and brass (nozzles and fittings), SCBAs and spare bottles (These are very important to know, whether you are exterior, interior, or support staff). Then move onto the lesser-used things: Haz-Mat equipment, absorbents, rescue tools, rope rescue gear, etc. If you memorize your rig you'll be much better off starting out. And don't stick to just one rig, make sure you can locate the PPV on the Ladder, the Denver bar on the second due Engine, the haz-mat gear on the Rescue, the command board in the Chief's vehicle... Know all of it.
  • Train Like Your Life Depends On It: It does. Firefighters, train hard and train every day, for every scenario. Station Pride posted an article a while back detailing how to train to respond to the unimaginable. It may seem silly or pointless, but trust me from experience: there is no "routine" shift, or day on the job. Saturday nightshift on the ambulance, expecting many alcohol-related calls, responded to an evisceration stabbing less than a block from quarters. There. Is. No. Such. Thing. As. A. Routine. Shift. Our profession is chaotic, and we all need to do better preparing for the thing we never expect.  Train train train!
  • Don't be "That Guy": There's one in every firehouse. Eventually, you'll understand what I mean. Don't try to act above your knowledge or skill level. Don't be a know-it-all. It's okay to know it all, but remember that someone will always know more than you, and there is always more to learn. It's also okay to say "Well, I haven't done this before, and it makes me a little nervous, but I'll give it a try!". Strive to do more, learn more, be more. Ask to try new things. Ask to try a different riding position. Show the initiative and you will be held in high regard. But make sure you are competent in your current duties before trying to advance.
  • Pranks And Hazing: Oh yes, there will be pranks. Some fire service traditions never die. A little pranking and good-hearted joking is all okay and all in good fun. BUT there are some pranks that I feel cross a line. One is pranks involving gear. A while ago, a female firefighter found her boots filled with water as a part of a prank. Think about what could have happened if they dropped a call and she had to wear those boots inside a structure? Steam burns are nothing to joke about. The gear we wear is designed to save our lives. If you feel like a prank crosses a line of safety, or makes you feel uncomfortable or unwelcome, speak up. TL;DR? Do not mess with gear. Do not put others at unnecessary risks with pranks. Do not be afraid to speak up if a prank crosses the line.
  • Pride: My first helmet was a red leather Lion American Heritage. Throughout 3 years in the department, I made it my own. Swapping out my Bourkes for clearer, unscratched ones; adding stickers and new tets, polishing my brass eagle, keeping my leather helmet shield and leather helmet in good condition, even giving it my own signature bend. I often got asked by fellow Explorers why I did so much to my lid, and often picked up some teasing for it. But it's a good question: why did I do it all? Well, it's the same reason we almost religiously clean and polish our trucks, and go to shows and parades. It's all about pride in the Job. With the fire service comes a certain pride in the work you're doing, never let your Pride in the job die. (But never let your pride get you into trouble. Don't be afraid to call the mayday or give you a big head). 
  • Brotherhood: "In this Brotherhood, no one fights alone". We go in together, and we come out together. Someone always has your back. It becomes an unspoken bond, a band of brothers, if you will. The fire service is built on Brotherhood, and it is still as present today as it ever has been. Embrace it.
  • If You Don't Know...: Ask! There will always be someone wiling to be your mentor or give you advice and tips, or even just answer simple questions. We all start somewhere.

Eventually you will stop calling it a Fire Station "because everyone knows that they aren't called firehouses anymore!", and you will call it a firehouse. It will become your second home, and your Brothers and Sisters will become your second family. You'll know their lives, their kids' names, what they like to do on their days off, and they will know yours. You'll stay an hour after a twenty-minute call just to talk to your old friends you haven't seen in a while and shoot the bull. Fire will be a part of your life forever, even if you decide to take a different path in life later on.

Welcome to the Brotherhood, probies. Let's get to work.

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James is a 4-year member of the LFC, and currently studies Natural Resources Management at SUNY-ESF in Syracuse, NY. James is a certified Type 2 Wildland Firefighter, Hazardous Materials Technician, and Driver/Attendant and EMT Student at Syracuse University EMS. James has worked for three fire departments and one EMS agency in his 4 years in emergency services. James is entering his 5th year in Fire & EMS in November 2015.

 

*How am I doing? Send in your Questions, Comments, or Suggestions to me here, or on Facebook!*

JKontoules

Introduction

Welcome readers to Blazing Bricks! Before my first column, I'm going to introduce myself to those of you who don't know me. My name is James K, and I've been a part of the LFC since early 2010. Back in the "Good Old Days" of County [60] Command on MOCpages, studded roofs on trucks, and only a very select few members using any sort of SNOT. I started my fleet with a commercial chassis engine, aerial purchased from NBEA, a Utility unit, and a Battalion unit. I now have 6 departments with 7 unique color schemes, and approximately 60 total fire and EMS units. 

I first entered the emergency services field in November of 2010 as an Explorer with Topsfield Fire-Rescue in MA, and soon after an explorer with Boxford Fire Department in nearby Boxford, MA. I ran with Topsfield for 3 years, and Boxford for around 2 1/2. Then, off to college, where I am now! I am currently running in my second year with Syracuse University Ambulance as a Driver/Attendant and EMT student. This past summer, during an internship with the National Park Service in Colorado, I joined the Grand Lake Fire Protection District as a Volunteer Firefighter and Wildland Technical Specialist. As of now, I am still running with SUA, and hold a Wildland Firefighter Type II "Red Card".

I decided to start this column to pass along the knowledge and advice I've gotten over the years from the "Vets" of the LFC and from working in Fire/EMS. You new members are the future of the LFC and of the fire service, and sometimes us older members forget that in order to keep going we must share the knowledge. So, that's what I'm here to do.

See you all tomorrow with the first edition!

 

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