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Complete a driver training program. From an investigation conducted after an apparatus accident that resulted in a firefighter fatality in my home state of New York, the report recommends that the fire department "should provide and ensure all drivers successfully complete a comprehensive driver training program before allowing a member to drive and operate a fire department vehicle." Think about how basic this recommendation is. Nothing beats initial and regular follow-up training.
GUEST COMMENTARY >>> 932 By MICHAEL P. DALLESSANDRO Why Is This Number Important? I have never been much of a numbers guy. For May 2009 issue, there it was in black and white. any formal driver-training program and they most of my life, I have struggled with math. Harvey Eisner provided a piece of information that are driving your rigs, find a class for them now! When I became a paramedic in 1986, calcu- I had never pondered until just that moment. He Nobody should climb behind the wheel of one of lating medication doses with all that milligrams- noted that between 1977 and 2007, the National your rigs unless they have received initial train- per-kilogram stuff really messed with my head, Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported that ing to understand what can go wrong and how and as a person who spent 20 years primarily 3,826 firefighters died in the line of duty and that to prevent or correct bad situations. Supplement as a fire apparatus driver/operator, I have to 932 of them were killed responding to or return- your in-house driver-training program (which admit I really never quite “got” the friction-loss ing from calls. 932. How did I miss that? I was so I am assuming you have) with the many guest stuff despite the fact that I know that I have focused on what had happened each year that I speakers who are available to address accident provided a great deal of water to some good never looked at the cumulative effects of years reduction. Make driver safety a part of every friends on the end of a line. of accidents involving firefighters responding and drill. Even if the drill topic is hoselays or initial There are, however, some numbers that do returning. 932 is a big number and it caused me attack, include training that reviews safety catch my attention. These are the numbers that to look at some of these accidents again. procedures and best practices for driving your we use to track our brothers and sisters who I returned to the National Institute for pumpers. If your drill topic is ladders, then add are no longer with us – nine in Charleston, SC; Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) website some “behind-the-wheel” time with your aerial. 343 in New York City; six in Worcester, MA; five (www.cdc.gov/niosh) and to the many reports Cutting up a car? Then cover emergency vehicle from Ladder 5 in Buffalo, NY. And now, 932. that I had read over and over. As pictures of the operations and handling characteristics with It is almost natural for me to have an damaged apparatus popped up on the screen, I your heavy rescue as well. interest in the safe operation of fire apparatus. thought, “I remember that one” almost every time. • Know where you are going. From a fatal After all my dad is a retired trucker, my wife What I wanted to do was to look at the NIOSH apparatus accident in Louisiana came a recom- is a CDL-holding school bus driver and I have recommendations and see whether any of these mendation that reads, “ensure that firefighters spent most of my full-time career dealing with incidents were out of the ordinary. We all know are familiar with the location of the roads in their a fleet of vehicles and commercial drivers that excess
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