I read Barry Furey s article entitled, "Dispatch Times: Regulations Versus Reality" (April 2010), with interest. As Mr. Furey writes, response time has always been a hotly debated issue for first responders. And it is true that 911 agencies are routinely challenged to contribute more to the efficiency of emergency response. As a consultant for 911 centers and public safety agencies, I am frequently asked about communications center performance issues by my clients.
FORUM >>> Fairness Vs. Safety? the actual names and places, that high- best way to learn something was to teach I would like to continue the discus- lights the fairness issue. it, which would help the rookie commit to sion started in the April Firehouse® by In the late 1970s, the first woman fire- memory the skills necessary to be a safe Chief Curt Varone in his Fire Law col- fighter graduated from a rookie school of and effective member of the crew. umn about “Social Engineering, Physical a metro county fire department and was The first rookie drill was to take the ex- Abilities and Sexual Harassment.” Great assigned her first duty station at an engine tension ladder off the engine, place it to the thought-provoking article. However, this company. The officer at this station liked firehouse roof and climb it with the roof topic has a fairness issue that is seldom to think “outside the box” and planned ladder. This was done with only the offi- discussed. I would like to relate a true to have the rookie give a series of basic cer observing and it became immediately story from my own experience, minus drills to the crew. He was aware that the apparent that the rookie was not strong enough to complete this evolution. It should be noted that this department had no physical fitness test for new employees. Subsequently, the officer made an ap- pointment to talk to his battalion chief and related his concern for her safety and the effectiveness of the crew. The battalion chief explained, “This was the first woman firefighter and in addition she has some American Indian heritage.” He went on to advise the officer “to just make it work.” Fast forward seven years and this same firefighter was now assigned to a truck company. The word on the street was that the officer was documenting all of her inabilities to perform basic job skills, especially those related to ground ladders. In seven years, the department had hired more women firefighters and she was not the only woman, but one of many. It was at this time that she reported a back injury and star
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