Have you ever noticed that a plane never leaves the gate without a spotter? It doesn't matter if the plane is backing two feet or 20 feet. The spotter is visible with bright-orange marshalling wands, has communications with the pilot and the tow operator, and uses two hands with clear signals and every spotter in every airport across the United States uses the same signals. When is the last time you heard or read about a backing accident at an airport?
GUEST COMMENTARY >>> By DAVE DENNISTON Airlines and Emergency Services: We Can Learn a Thing or Two I often think that I have one of the best jobs in the work again when we need it? We need to build some “pilot” and the spotter of your apparatus must both be world. I get to travel across the United States to checks and balances (redundancy) into our equipment trained and take their jobs seriously. This is one of the meet and work with firefighters and EMS provid- checks and follow up to be certain they’re done. We simplest, cost-efficient and effective safety measures ers on a regular basis. I’ll admit just like any job it must realize that sometimes corners are cut and we we could put in place today, and yet it is one of the isn’t perfect, but it sure is tough to beat. One of the need to ensure we are covered. most overlooked and non-enforced policies in many downsides of the job is long hours and constant travel. Airlines also emphasize training. I fly on the emergency organizations. I joke that I know more people at the US Airways average of once a week and have heard the seatbelt The final area where airlines have us beat is counter than I do at the home office. A firefighter message over and over. I know the nearest exit may “near-miss reporting.” Each incident and near miss in approached me at a recent class I was teaching and be behind me and I know my seat cushion may be aviation is reported, evaluated and communicated to asked if the thought of flying so much ever made used for a flotation device and, other airlines. We have the ability me nervous. I replied that I really never gave it much thought, but to be honest I am more nervous every oh yes, the bag on the oxygen mask may not inflate, but oxygen What a novel to do the same in fire and EMS services. The purpose of report- time my fire pager goes off at home than I am of flying. He asked me to explain my logic and the con- is indeed flowing. While this message is being given, I am concept – ing near misses is so that trends can be identified, solutions can be versation went something like this. Fire and EMS responders can learn a lot if they probably checking out the latest edition of Sky Mall magazine and actually checking discovered and together we can make emergency services safer study the airline industry. First is risk management. not paying attention, but I still for all. I encourage you to report The airlines look at weather conditions and decide hear it, as does the person on the to be sure that all near misses so we can learn when it is not safe to fly. Can planes take off and land plane who may have never flown from others as well. To date, over in rain, snow, fog and wind? Sure they can, when they before. Don’t assume your mem- everyone is doing 2,000 near-miss reports have have to, but sometimes the risks far outweigh the bers already know the message been logged at www.firefight- benefits and they ground the flights. The same is true of safety in your organization; what we have ernearmiss.com. Report your data of firefighting. Can we enter a fully involved building repeat it over and over – it just so that other may benefit. Study and fight a fire? Sure we can, but sometimes the may save
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