Monday, May 25, 2009

Good Luck, Bad Luck, and SOGs

It never ceases to amaze me how many times I hear or see really bad ideas espoused as the way to do things. Examples abound;

1) Refusing to wear seat belts in the rig "So we can go right to work at the scene".

2) Putting a vent crew on the roof of a structure that is an obvious defensive fire that has already autovented.

3) Putting engine crews in the collapse zone on a defensive fire.

4) Forcing crews to wear structural firefighitng PPE for situations where it actually creates hazards from heat stress, lack of mobility, or negative buoyancy such as remote wildland fires, USAR calls, and water rescues.

5) Advocating rescue procedures based on how easy they are to perform even if they create excessive risk to the patient.

My responses to the above are;

1) If your rig only makes it halfway to the scene and you are ejected from the rig, how did the few seconds you "saved" on this call make it worth the end of your career and maybe your life?

Those few seconds pale in comparison.

2) If the fire is through the roof, the fire has already been vertically ventilated. It's the fire's way of telling you to put the truckies to work somewhere else.

3) If your hose stream can't reach the interior of a defensive fire from a safe location, either get a bigger stream in play or just protect exposures with the one you have. You don't need to see how close you can get to the fire when it can drop a wall or an overhang on your head.

4) If you fight wildland fires, do USAR work, or do water rescue, dress for the sport you're playing. Wearing structural PPE to wildland fires can kill you from heat stress and will greatly reduce your mobility. Mobility is a big deal when you're hiking 100 yards - or 5 miles - in a wildland firefight. Mobility is a big deal in confined spaces, trenches, or structural collapse. Structural PPE doesn't help you float, so don't wear it to water rescues.

5) We need to follow best practices because they're the best thing to do, not because they're the easiest thing to do. Rescue procedures need to be evaluated on what we might do TO the patient as well as what we can do FOR the patient.
The photo above shows a best practice - placing a barrier board between rescue tools and the patients. That provides fragment and impact protection for the patients just in case something goes wrong. The rescuers in the photo are demonstrating a best practice instead of just hoping that they get lucky.

If you do something dangerous or stupid and get away with it once, you're lucky.
If you get away with it twice, you're VERY lucky. If you get away with it three times, it's now your SOG.
If you count on good luck as an SOG, sooner or later you'll be attending a LODD funeral for someone that was killed by "We've always done it that way."

Be smart, and don't count on good luck as a SOG. Eventually, your good luck will run out.

I don't want "Unlucky" on my tombstone. How about you?

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