From an outside view, the life of first responders looks glamorous and exciting. The red, white and blue lights flashing, “busting” the speed limit, sirens screaming. However, when those first responders arrive on the scene, they often find sadness and desolation, the darkest side of humanity or tragic, unnecessary loss. Now, imagine facing those situations day-after-day or on almost every shift. As we are about to close the second decade of the twenty-first century, our first responders see this dark side far too often. Add to that the pressures of everyday life in today’s “I need it now” society and some reach a breaking point.
They don’t wear capes, nor do they have super powers, for those first responders are our neighbors, members of our church or synagogue, shop at the same grocery store that we do. And when we do see them in public, whether in uniform or not, there will probably always be a smile or a friendly nod. However, if we could look deeper, we just might see a very troubled individual.
My guest, Mark Lamplugh, Jr., is a former fire captain and knows of what I describe above. And he has dedicated himself to helping those first responders who suffer from the trauma of the profession, that truth be told, they love. For the past ten years, Mark has answered phone calls and emails from first responders around the county, reaching out from the darkness for help.
In today’s episode, Mark discusses the issues that many first responders face and how he has helped them deal with these behavioral health problems. Additionally, he has taken that experience to create a non-profit agency, to allow first responder agencies or their communities to have their own, private and secure website, customized specifically for that agency or community, where those first responders can turn to learn or for help that has already been vetted to not only work with first responders, but will also accept the insurance coverage of the responder. Learn more with my guest, Mark Lamplugh, Jr.
There are few greater issues facing not only the fire service today, but all manner of first responders. To address these important matters, I am proud to present four current or past chiefs, who share their own experiences and views.
Joining me is Chief Anthony Correia (ret.) Burlington Township NJ Fire Dept., Commissioner Jaren Renshaw, Western Berks Fire Dept., PA, Chief Brian Soller, Monticello NY Fire Dept. and Chief James Tornebene, TX.
As the roles and demands of our ever-changing society push and pull us in diverse directions, so have our abilities to be able to serve our communities, not only as first responders, but in serving those civic and religious organizations that we once devoted free time to. This ever stronger “push-pull” requires new ideas and approaches as we look to both increase and retain those who wish to serve their communities as members of career, volunteer or paid-on-call departments.
These four gentlemen share their experiences over their many years of service. They have seen this evolution of society, as well as the fire service over the past forty years and how our job descriptions and requirements have changed many times over. With that much change, we might also see confusion and high turnover in our departments. Each of these chiefs share with you the listener, what they have seen and/or done, within their own or neighboring communities.
Be ready to take notes! This is a podcast the likes of which we have never done before!
If you’re a firefighter or in law enforcement, if you’re in EMS or another profession where “risk” at the top of the job description, you have probably had that “feeling in your gut.” You know the one; you are about to do something, but that little voice inside whispers to you to reconsider? If you’re in any profession with high risk, you know exactly what I am talking about. That is your inner-self speaking to you, as it sees or knows a bit more than you do at that very moment.
My guest on this episode is Dr. Richard Gasaway, renowned authority on human factors, situational awareness and the decision-making process in high stress, high consequence, work environments. He has authored six books and he has been widely cited in more than four-hundred books, book chapters, journal articles and online publications. He is the creator and host of the podcast, “Situational Awareness Matters,” available on your preferred podcast streaming service.
In our discussion, we focus on the concepts of “gut feeling” and “intuition;” are they the same, complimentary or different and how the concept applies. Dr. Gasaway shares some of the details from his recent episodes, “Top 10 Near-Miss Interviews,” and “Mental Rehearsal.”
Look at this way, not every decision we make on a day-to-day basis, drives that “gut feeling” or needs that intuitive angle. However, if you to “5-Alarm Task Force” on a regular basis, most likely, you are a first responder. If so, you probably know what we are referring to. To learn more about it, tune in with us for this podcast, “Situational Awareness Matters!”
I am happy to welcome back the two founders of Hoods for Heroes, Jeff Rountree and Bill Hamilton. In Part I of their program, we learned how Jeff and Bill have dedicated the past year to providing new flash hoods, ones with a special weave, the precludes soot, toxins and carcinogens for passing through to the sensitive skin on our neck and face. Their foundation is raising funds from other foundations, corporate sponsors and others, to meet the goal of providing these hoods to every firefighter in the U.S.
In this second appearance, Jeff and Bill are here to answer two very important questions,
1. “Who pays for my cancer treatment if I am diagnosed?
2. Is there a way to financially prepare myself and/or my family?
As someone who was declared disabled at the age of 40, with a wife, two young children and a new house, I was lucky to have purchased a private disability policy at age 29. That policy saved my butt! Now ask yourself, with our strong Firefighter Cancer Initiative education and mitigation programs, do you have any idea of what happens if you receive a diagnosis of some type of cancer?
Joining Jeff and Bill is a friend Tanya, who firefighter husband was recently diagnosed with a Stage 4 cancer. Tanya, who had been in the insurance business until her husband’s illness, explains the financial “tornado” they find themselves in. They had thought that with her husband’s insurance policies through work, everything would have been taken care of. But that is not the case.
Jeff and Bill and explain how payments may work depending on your insurance coverage and tell us about a new program, “Living Benefits,” that provides funds for the patient and his/her family, and not necessarily for just a cancer diagnosis. Every first responder should listen to this podcast!
Technology – it’s all around us. From our homes, to our cell phones and for many of us, where we work. Many of us are enthralled with new technology and make an effort to keep up with it, especially in our personal lives. Yet, the fire service, as much as we like new equipment, tools, etc., can often be reticent to accept and embrace new technology. It goes without saying that we should do our due diligence when examining a new product. At the same time, we also need to keep an open mind.
Jeff Dykes, a fire captain in Wisconsin, saw a need for a device that could provide a firefighter wearing an SCBA mask, with his/her situational awareness via the Cardinal Directions of North, South East and West. With that, the Northern Star Fire was born.
As you will hear in this podcast, Jeff has been working for the last three years on bringing the Northern Star Fire compass device to market. Placed inside the SCBA mask, the Northern Star Fire provides you with your cardinal direction in eight positions, even in the darkest, smoke-filled hallway or room. The device is so accurate, it has been used by Navy Seals, deep-sea pipeline divers and many others.
Tune in to learn more about the Northern Star Fire and learn how a device the approximate size off a U.S. quarter, might save your life!
After a few years on the front lines, a number of us believe that we should be officers. Perhaps I “should” have used “could be officers!” And that is because being an officer, from a lieutenant up to the chief, is not an easy job, no matter what you see, think or what your pals have told you! Not sure? Then I encourage you to listen to this podcast. No, it’s not a listing of all the negatives about being an officer. In fact, you may learn some important traits you will need if you choose to pursue this course in your career.
My guest is Deputy Chief Steve Prziborowski of the Santa Clara County CA Fire Department. With over 25 years on the job and an accomplished speaker, instructor and mentor, Steve has a passion for helping others get hired, stay hired, get promoted and stay promoted.
In this podcast, Steve presents two lists for you to consider; one are five traits that demonstrate you may be ready for a leadership role and the second is a list of five attributes that will help to better your chances of being successful.
As we all know, there are no guaranties in life. Perhaps though, if you have a clearer picture of both your motives, as well as the right personal goals to aim for, you might have a gold bar or two, or even a trumpet or two, in your future.
Stay Safe & Stay Well!
Career or volunteer, our days are busy, at least most of the time. Nevertheless, training and drills are an important and integral part of the job we do. If you’re in a busy department, you may feel that all the calls that you run are enough training. If you’re a volunteer, you hardly have enough time to take care of the family, work full-time and respond to the calls you can! And to be honest, most of us like to train when it’s convenient. The problem is, the emergencies we respond to don’t know what “convenient” means and it is imperative for us to know and know well, everything we have to do to mitigate any emergency.
My guest, Chief Dennis P. Reilly, currently serves as the Assistant Chief for the Davis CA Fire Department and is a 40-year veteran of the fire service and a veteran of our armed forces. When you look at his topic, some may get all blustery and will be ready to argue, while others may ask themselves, “I wonder where we may be missing something.” It all depends on if you view the “glass half-empty or half-full.”
The Chief makes an excellent point when he discusses the difference between, “training” and “drilling.” For example, you take a 3-hour class on thermal imaging cameras. Great class and you feel as though you’ve learned a lot. However, for the next three months, you don’t pick up a TIC. Are you still prepared to use that tool to possibly save the life of a civilian or even a firefighter?
After you listen to Chief Reilly’s podcast, think about his conversation and bring either the podcast or his wise words, back to share with your department. Training and drilling cannot always take place at times that we feel are convenient. Then again, neither is Mrs. Smith’s emergency when her house erupts into flames. Remember – we don’t want to “fall short” on the scene of an emergency!
You’ve seen it happen. You may have even done it yourself. No, not being a few minutes late for your shift! No, not horsing around in the day room! We are talking about making the type of judgement error that could cost you your job and possibly, your career! So, listen up – this podcast applies to all first responders.
My guest is Chief Dennis L. Rubin, currently serving as the first Chief of Fire & EMS for Upper Merion Township in Pennsylvania, not too far from the great city of Philadelphia. Chief Rubin has been the Chief in Atlanta, Washington DC and Petersburg VA, before coming to PA. He has several books published and is a well-traveled speaker, instructor and mentor. This is his third appearance on “5-Alarm Task Force,” where he has discussed his principles of leadership and, along with his dear friend, the late Chief Alan Brunacini, was on the podcast to discuss the Wingspread VI conference, which is held once per decade!
In this episode, Chief Rubin cautions us to avoid those actions which could be, “career crushers;” actions and/or reactions that could result in serious consequences to the point that you could be terminated and lose your ability to work in the profession. As he put it, “Don’t be the one when the public safety tabloids say, ‘What was he/she thinking!’”
On Chief Rubin’s entry on our website page for our guests, (www.dalmatianproductions.tv) you will find two of the posters he uses to educate his members. While some of the suggestions seem simple enough, you can never be sure just how someone else may react. Remember – whether you’re a firefighter, EMT/Paramedic or in law enforcement we hold the public trust. When you screw up, you tarnish the badge for all of us!
For most folks, especially those who are first responders, if they someone in pain or truly distraught, they won’t have the heart to just pass it by and go on with their shopping, run, picking up the dry-cleaning, etc. My two guests on this podcast, Jeff Rountree and Bill Hamilton, are “cut from the same cloth.”
This past May, while first-timers at promoting International Firefighters’ Day in Clay County, Florida, they found out about the scourge that is devouring great firefighters every single day – CANCER. Their background is the insurance business, so they were well aware of cancer and the toll it wreaks upon both the patient and those around him/her. But they had no idea of how strongly it was depleting the American Fire Service of great firefighters, of all ages.
Not ones to sit around and do nothing, they create and non-profit organization, “Hoods for Heroes.” Their goal is to present each and every one of the approximate 1.2 million firefighters in the U.S., with a newly designed, flash hood, with a processing that traps particulate matter from soot before it reaches the most vulnerable areas of our body, the thin layers of skin around the neck, ears and scalp.
The numbers of diagnoses are climbing. In a relatively recent study with the Boston Fire Dept., a firefighter were being diagnosed with cancer every THREE WEEKS! Moreover, the type of cancers being found in firefighters are either highly aggressive or new strains and type that oncologists and researchers have see little or none of, before this.
Listen as Jeff and Bill tell their story. See to whom they are turning to for help. Your employer just might be a perfect match!
It is what it is! This job that we love to do has inherent risks and now, besides everything else, we know, all too well, that one of those risks is cancer. It’s a fact that firefighters have higher occurrences of cancer than the average American. However, we also have excellent medical and research teams around the country who are doing everything they can to learn about our behaviors, exposures, the equipment we use and more, in the herculean effort to help us reduce these risks.
One of those teams is right here in South Florida at the University of Miami – Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. Two of the leaders are Dr. Alberto Caban-Martinez and Dr. Natasha Schaefer-Solle. For at least the past four years, the medical and research teams have worked diligently to glean the facts of what we are exposed to and the means to reduce that exposure as much as possible.
Dr. Schaefer-Solle was an integral member of the team that recently developed a gross-decon bucket that was made available to every fire department in Florida and for each apparatus that they have! Inside the bucket are various tools, instructions and videos to instruct members how to perform a gross decon BEFORE they get back on the apparatus and leave the fireground.
Join us, as we look back where we were six months ago when the doctors first joined us and see, not only where we are today, but where we are headed for tomorrow.
For specific information on the links mentioned in this podcast, please visit www.dalmatianproductions.tv, and under the NEWS tab, you will see the FIREFIGHTER CANCER INITIATIVE tab.
Stay Safe & Stay Well!