He asked how many of the 26 fire departments represented in the room had a process in their Mayday/rapid intervention procedures for canceling a Mayday. Hearing the answer…I was stunned!
In all my travels and in all my teaching, I’ve never considered the ramifications of what could happen if there were no process in place by which to confirm a rescue had been completed (of the right members) and when the Mayday should be cancelled. It was a brilliant question.
He shared with the class that he had posted the question on a national forum and found only a handful of departments that actually have a process to confirm a rescue is complete and the Mayday is cancelled. Absent of this process, how do we really know the firefighters are safe and the right crew has been rescued, and all the firefighters in danger have been rescued? Imagine how complicated things could become if there were multiple Maydays.
I am reminded of the Bricelyn Street fire in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the valuable lessons that arose from the need to have good accountability during a Mayday operation.
SOLUTION: Develop a procedure and train firefighters how to account for everyone and include a process for how to ensure the right firefighters have been rescued. The Mayday procedure should include a process for how to cancel the Mayday once the incident has diminished or, in the worst of possible outcomes, the commander determines the progression of the fire has exceeded the capacity of firefighting teams to conduct interior rescue operations.
1. Does your department have both a Mayday and a Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) policy?
2. Do your Mayday and RIT programs include a process for a diminished Mayday?
3. Have you ever been involved in a Mayday operation? If so, share your experience of what went well and what could have been improved.
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