When someone calls 911, dispatchers identify the location of the call and get a sense of the situation. Within seconds, the light panels around the station light up alerting the crew to the call.
“The panels have different colored lights, which tell us which vehicles have been dispatched — blue for ambulances, red for fire engines, green for special units,” shared Sauer.
Once the lights come on, station-wide audio systems broadcast the dispatcher giving a brief situation report. This helps the responders get their bearings while heading to their vehicles.
“Everyone has a predesignated position and responsibility on each unit, so there’s no delay in getting out the door to decide on jobs,” said Sauer.
Because the first thing firefighters do when they come on duty is set up their gear next to the engine, they can quickly get dressed when a call comes in.
“As you can imagine, the first thing they teach you in firefighter training is how to put all of your gear on in about 60 seconds or less,” Sauer said.
When calls come in, firefighters are ready and in the engine in a flash. The officer of the unit immediately pulls out maps and uses the integrated GPS to calculate the best route to the call. He or she also uses either the computer system or radio to notify dispatch that the call has been received and the unit is responding. They aim for a two to three minute maximum from the moment a citizen calls 911 to the moment they are out the door.
At the Scene
The driver and the officer work as a team to arrive safely at the scene of each call.
“We operate large vehicles and share the road with a lot of drivers who tend to get startled by our sudden and urgent appearance,” said Sauer. “Both the driver and the officer keep a close eye on the vehicles around and the route ahead to make sure everything is done safely.”
The dispatchers link up with the responders to provide a more detailed situation report, and their computer system displays text notes made by the 911 call taker. This helps the entire crew prepare for the impending situation.
In the back of an ambulance, personnel review the details of the call, as well, and begin to make decisions about equipment needed. In the back of a fire engine, firefighters prepare their self-contained breathing apparatus and their tools.
“When fire and EMS units arrive on a scene, everyone has a job, and they immediately get to it,” said Sauer. “While we maintain open lines of communication, we often don’t need to do much since everyone follows the same standards of responsibilities.”
In other words, well-trained units operate like well-oiled machines. On the scene of a big fire, every unit has a job designated for them before they even arrive on scene, so there is very little wasted time. This allows units who rarely work together to operate seamlessly. On the scene of an EMS call or auto accident, the same rules apply.
Through rigorous training, effective communication and outstanding teamwork, units like Sauer’s are saving lives and fighting fires every day.
Stay tuned for part three of our interview with Rescue Lieutenant Andrew Sauer.
Are you looking for a change? Here in Prince William County, the volunteer departments provide fire and emergency medical services to the County’s citizens and visitors during weekday evenings, weekends and holidays. Prince William County’s volunteer fire and rescue departments are seeking motivated individuals who have the desire to make a difference and provide an important service to their community. Learn more now.
- Posted by ATW
- On November 30, 2017
- 0 Comments