Firehouse Friday Chat – with Jack & Mack

Jack & Mack

Jack & Mack OCT 9th 2020

Mack: Hey Jack, I was in your neck of the woods this week – I was outside the fire academy. The rain was pouring and there was a big puddle in front of the main entrance. I stood there near the edge with a fishing rod, the line in the puddle.

A young curious fire recruit came over to me and asked what I was doing.

“Fishing,” I simply said, “Fishing for my supper!”

“Poor old fool,” the fire recruit thought and he invited me into local bar for a drink.

He must have felt he should start some conversation while we were sipping our whiskey, the smart-ass fire fighter asked me, “And how many have you caught today?’

“You’re the eighth fire fighter” I replied!

Jack: “You’re an idiot!”

This weeks question comes from Ron T out of Boston, MA.

“J&M what are your thoughts on training first responders to deal with irrational human behavior during and post a Hazmat or CBRN incident?”

Mack: “While the incident itself presents problems of civilian evacuation, containment and control, I would argue that the Decontamination phase is where we are likely to face problems of differing human reaction following a CBRN/Hazmat incident. As I’m sure we would agree Decon is a critical activity carried out in order to mitigate and contain the risk posed by any hazardous materials involved. Human behavior plays a crucial role in such incidents, as casualties have little understanding of the situation they find themselves in, leading to uncertainty in what actions to take and just wanting to get the hell out of the situation. This will result in unfamiliar and very difficult circumstances within which first responders must operate.

I do believe that this aspect of behavior is a fundamental preparation piece that’s often missed in training and planning assumptions made by emergency services and planners in preparation for these events.

There were some recent studies in the UK, published in the International Journal of Emergency Services, which clearly demonstrated the importance of accounting for behavioral aspects in regard to levels of compliance to be expected by responders and the potential problem of casualties not remaining at the scene of an incident to undergo decontamination.

The UK teams research identified a number of key themes not recognized through other research and offered insights into potential flaws in the UK response planning for CBRN/Hazmat incidents requiring mass decontamination. There’s still more to be done in this area to ensure gaps in planning, training and strategies for mass decontamination operations can be more fully informed and thus allow for a more effective response.”