I recently had the honor of lecturing at the Clermont County (Ohio) EMS Seminar. I was there at the invitation of Loveland-Symmes Fire Department (LSFD) Deputy Chief Billy Goldfeder, a friend and colleague who also founded the website Firefighter Close Calls.
It was a great conference with eager-to-learn attendees, but most of my fun came after the conference. Dan Mack, assistant chief at Miami (Ohio) Township Fire Department (MTFD), owner of Disaster Response Solutions and an MCI junkie like me, took me to see one of five tractor-trailer mass casualty incident (MCI) units deployed throughout the Northeast Fire Collaborative service area.
I was like a kid in a candy store looking at these massive, well-planned and heavily stocked MCI vehicles. They even had a decked-out EMS/MCI Gator carried in the rear deck area. (See photo 1, below.)
Photo courtesy Miami Township Fire Department
The Northeast Fire Collaborative was established in 2011 by six communities: cities of Blue Ash, Loveland, Mason and Sharonville, and Symmes Township and Sycamore Township. It was formed to improve response, safety and economies of providing service. Today, the combined communities involved in the Collaborative man 13 stations with more than 300 firefighters/EMTs/paramedics, and operate as one fire/EMS response system while maintaining autonomy. The departments all use one standard response policy to respond to 15,000 emergencies annually.
After touring MTFD and its immediately available MCI unit, we were on our way to dinner when we heard a job come in for a major accident on Interstate 275, the beltway that runs around Cincinnati and northern Kentucky. A UPS tractor-trailer couldn’t avoid a salt truck that suddenly stalled on the interstate and hit it with such force that the UPS driver broke the steering wheel with his body during the violent impact.
Mack knew I’d want to go to the incident, so we responded. It was in the LSFD district, so I got a chance to see all resources in action. The first unit I saw on arrival was a cool LSFD Braun ambulance built on a Kenworth chassis that had chevron reflective striping on the rear. That was my first clue that LSFD and the other Northeast Fire Collaborative members had their act together.
Then I saw LSFD’s rescue truck and its rear-mounted crane. (See photo 2, below.) When I got to the command post, LSFD’s “District 1” vehicle, I met Fire Chief Otto Huber. He was co-located at the unit with the on-duty district chief (shift commander) at the highly functional shift-and-command vehicle. According to Huber and Goldfeder, the crane became a staple when they responded to a wreck where they needed one. It wasn’t immediately available, so they factored one into the design of their truck.
The small, highly-functional shift and command vehicle, built by Southeast Apparatus in Kentucky, has a pull-out, two-sided, slanted tray with incident command boards on one side and accountability and assignment boards on the other, as well as all the lighting, protective gear, supplies and communications equipment necessary to run a safe and efficient response. (See photos 3–5, below.)
I was also pleased to find the law enforcement/patrol officer-in-charge positioned at the command vehicle, working in harmony with the fire and EMS chiefs. (See photo 4, above.) It’s something I rarely see at big calls throughout the U.S. I left the scene impressed with a well-run call, managed by a well-run department and its mutual aid (“collaborative”) departments.
After dinner that night, Huber and Goldfeder invited me to stop by any of their stations during my trip. Because I was leaving early the next morning, I took Goldfeder up on the offer that night—I’m glad I did.
We stopped by an LSFD station unannounced and I was totally impressed by not just the layout and rigs, but also by the appearance and attitude of the staff. Inside, I was introduced to Lt. John Eadicicco, who enthusiastically gave me the tour of the station and equipment. (See photo 6, below.)
LSFD covers 14 square miles in Southwest Ohio, and provides fire and EMS to 28,000 residents, under contract to the city of Loveland and Symmes Township. The organization responds to 1,400 fire and 2,100 EMS calls annually with 60 firefighters who staff four stations on three shifts. Thirty-five are paramedics; the rest are EMTs.
The thing that impressed me immediately was the cleanliness of the station and vehicles, the discipline of the staff, and the pride and dedication to the delivery of professional emergency service. All of the rigs on the big interstate incident two hours earlier were cleaned, towel-dried and ready to roll. (See photos 7 and 8, below).
LSFD operates with one standard set of command guidelines, policies and procedures. All chiefs and officers are trained and certified at the Blue Card Command level, and all ranked personnel also go thru the Blue Card training. It’s a CAAS-accredited EMS agency, CPSE/CFAI accredited and an ISO Class 2 department. Impressive!
Even more impressive was that the on-duty district chief, who is a firefighter/paramedic, responds on all incidents, including EMS calls, to provide staff support, meet with family members and provide additional ALS if needed.
What a breath of fresh air it was to visit a region and departments that truly embraced command and control, cooperative relationships, training and professionalism 24/7. None of it was a show for me, but a mirror image of what they do on a daily basis. It was an experience and display of resources, leadership and innovations that I wanted to share with you.