This case is based on real circumstance. More information will be revealed as the case progresses.
You are the Chief EMS Officer of LIFE Risk Fire & Rescue Service in a large metropolitan area with a population of about 1,000,000 residents. One of your units has been dispatched to a high rise public housing complex in an economically depressed area of the city for a “possible hear attack” and they staged two blocks from the location pending police support to secure the scene.
Last week, while entering the complex, a firefighter-paramedic was killed from a head injury that occurred when an iron lamp was tossed out of an upper floor. In fact, the tenants in the complex occasionally have thrown objects from upper floors at responding police and firefighters as they approach the building.
The police in this metro area are already stretched to the limit and expecting them to secure the building prior to sending in your crews is not a reasonable expectation that they will do so quickly. The police have “investigated” the incidents and cannot determine who is at fault. No charges have been brought.
Your crews at that station tell you that they will not respond to the building prior to the location being secured. If this practice continues, response times to the residential complex will be generally greater than 30 minutes.
The City Manager just informed you that you are to meet with the Mayor the next morning and that the issue has been placed on the City Council’s agenda for the next meeting in two weeks. A plan of action will need to be submitted.
You are to make a recommendation to the Mayor in preparation for his (and your) appearing before City Council. The safety of the residents, your crews, and your job are at risk.
Answer: Recommendation for the Meeting with the Mayor
The Life Fire and Rescue Service Crew are ready and willing to perform their duty in the affected area, but the current situation has caused a lot of difficulties for the crew. We depend on the police to secure the area before we enter the housing complex for the rescue mission. We cannot risk entering the building without the police securing the area because it is dangerous, considering the fact that a firefighter has already been killed as a result of an iron lamp tossed from the upper floor of the building. However, the police have also faced a big challenge of trying to secure the area because people are fighting back.
Due to this dilemma, it is necessary for both of us to consider possible ways of solving the situation. One of the recommendations is that the police and the fire fighters crew should collaborate and work together as a team. The police need to offer protection to our crew members as they enter the building in order to shield them from external attacks and other dangers that may be faced in the mission. The two teams should understand that the task to rescue people and property in such situations has risks, and they should face such risks courageously together. The police should understand that their duty is to ensure the safety of a fire scene and the firefighters should understand that their role is to fight fire (Applegate, 1976). These duties should be integrated and the players should collaborate in order to build confidence for the two players in order to enhance successful operation.
Secondly, the police need to be well equipped with protective materials such as helmets, bullet proof jackets, and all armories that they need to protect themselves from assaults and attacks from people in the upper floors (Hess & Wrobleski, 2006). Similarly, the Life Fire and Rescue Service crew needs to be equipped with all the rescue materials that they need to deal with such difficult situations. Dealing with security and safety issues needs the use of sophisticated materials and equipment. The mayor should therefore consider marshalling support from the government in terms of resources and materials to boost the efforts of the Rescue operators and the police.
The police and the rescue crew should also be trained on public relations. Although this may take long, it is necessary to develop such skills in order to enable the police and the rescue team to respond appropriately to crowds in the building (Hess & Wrobleski, 2006). For example, our crew will be asked to address people politely as they approach the scene. Similarly, the police should persuade people to allow them carry out their security duties. The local leaders may be used to calm the people down because they understand the area, and if they talk with the people they might listen and give the police and the rescue team a peaceful environment to carry out their rescue operations.
The police and the firefighters should also develop an effective communication strategy so that each team is informed about what is going on, and all players understand their roles in the current scenario (Stowell et al, 2001). The leaders of both sides should meet and talk about the situation, and then pass the message to other members in an appropriate manner. The Rescue team needs to approach the leader of the police and inform them about the need for their security before they can access the area. The police should also communicate their fears with the rescue team. This form of vertical and horizontal communication needs to be used throughout the rescue operation so that they all play their roles effectively.
Applegate, R. (1976). Kill or get killed: Riot control techniques, manhandling, and close combat, for police and the military. Boulder, Colo: Paladin Press.
Hess, K.M., & Wrobleski, H.M. (2006). Police operations: Theory and practice. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.
Stowell, F.M., Brakhage, C., & Smith, C. (2001). Fire department safety officer. Stillwater, OK: Fire Protection Publications, Oklahoma State University.