Friday, April 12, 2013

And In This Corner ...

This weekend-- and perhaps more so for Rusko next weekend -- the beefed up Amherst Fire Department will be put to the test as the Mullins Center hosts back-to-back techno music concerts, well know providers of ETOH calls (alcohol poisoning).

And in the other corner: AFD A3 

With 13 professional full-time firefighters on duty, the plan is to staff all six ambulances thus leaving only one firefighter for "station coverage."  

And when five ambulances are all tied up carting drunks to Cooley Dickinson Hospital and a call comes in for a 9 month old baby choking or a 92 year old grandmother having a stroke we will all be thankful for that sixth ambulance -- especially if it's your loved one they rescue.

Standing orders are that last ambulance would go to the scene of the emergency without hesitation, and who could argue with that?

The problem is that leaves only one firefighter left to protect the town, who can't do a heck of a lot.  Then what happens when the dreadful call come in:  "Box Alarm. Three story wood structure. Fully involved".  

And, even worse, it's located in deep South Amherst.

Yes, the Student Force based at North Station would respond, as would mutual aid from South Hadley, Belchertown, Hadley and Northampton, but that would take extra time.  

And in a major structure fire, time is on the side of the demon.


Walter Graff said...

So what happened to nipping this in the bud. Every concert I go to, every football game, everything that is in a public stadium, I am subject to frisk, body search, and metal detectors.

Are they handing out a pint and some ecstasy to every kid that goes in to see this concert. Clearly the University enjoys looking stupid after the fact. I guess they never heard of the term an ounce of prevention. You can beef up your public relations but if you don't address the issues at hand then you've wasted a lot of energy.

Then again, if the student body that attends this can't be in an altered state of mind, throwing up all over the place, and other symptoms of poor upbringing and dysfunctional families, who would want to attend.

Dr. Ed said...

Larry, I have met some members of this "Student Force" and they aren't a bunch of drunken layabouts. I have no doubt they would get at least one piece of equipment on scene and operational just about as quickly as the paid guys would. After all, where do you think that the ladder truck and "Quint" are garaged -- the only place where they will fit, the North Station which is, well, where the "Student Force" lives as well.

So if you need anything more than a pumper -- and in your hypothetical situation you would -- it's gotta come out of the North Station anyway. (More justification for a South Amherst fire station, btw.)

And they do have, umm, radios which means that the more senior firefighters could provide tactical suggestions over the radio if needed -- and it also wouldn't be the first time that senior level firefighters have responded to a fire in an ambulance.

Also, doesn't the 6th ambulance rolling sound another alarm which triggers mutual aid for station coverage? Or at least put mutual aid on alert to roll should a 7th ambulance be needed -- every FF protocol I ever was aware of was that mutual aid was tripped when your last full crew and/or piece of equipment was committed.

Anonymous said...

Don't you two have lives?

Dr. Ed said...

And two other things -- first, do not blame Mullins Center events on UMass. The Mullins Center is privately managed by a private company -- and these events are put on by THEM and not by UMass.

You can no more blame UMass for these events than you can blame the Town of Amherst for UMass events. And I believe that it has been pointed out in the past that the majority of people transported are not UM students.

Second, it only takes one firefighter to drive a fire truck -- to drive it *anywhere* including to a fire scene, and FF Parr may not appreciate me saying this, but in a dire situation, police officers sometimes get pressed into firefighting duties such as helping to drag hoses and watch gauges.

Not to mention that, in a dire enough situation, ambulance crews can be cannibalized, units taken out of service and/or CDH's triage schedule shifted to expedite clearing at least a couple AFD crews to let them roll directly to the fire. No, I really doubt that the entire department would be nonchalantly sitting around the ambulance bay while a working fire in town went unaddressed.

Walter Graff said...

So then UMASS is the landlord and Mullins the tenant. So I can't blame the landlord for things the tenant does or allows. Sort of like saying that the Mullins Center is going to have parties in the basement, and allow all sorts of drugs and drinking and I have to address the tenet for this and not the landlord for allowing it.

Also like saying that while UMASS students live off campus, UMASS has no say or can not set rules for what happens off campus by students matriculated in the system.

Doesn't work for me. UMASS should set rules and enforce standards for not only its students but for those that it entrusts to entertain them, namely on ITS OWN CAMPUS.

Again, a town where you can't blame anyone because once again it seems no one is in charge.

Anonymous said...

i'm content with many talented, hard-working people having mutual responsibility and accountability.

many leaders in this town. walt's clearly not one of them.

walt needs a place with a man who's "in charge".

Anonymous said...

Ed and Walt, you two should meet for coffee to discuss these issues.

Anonymous said...

I think that the students are not in service during holiday weekends. My buddy is a member and I believe they do not staff this weekend.

Dr. Ed said...

Walter -- drop a Sunshine Request on UM and get a copy of the contract. I haven't read the most recent one, but the earlier one essentially gave the place to Ogden with them agreeing to have it ready for sports events and such -- and free to do anything they damn well please with it the rest of the time.

I didn't write that contract.

And this is like Target -- they lease that store, but they have control over it.

Anonymous said...

Ed, you constantly show how clueless you are. Your lack of knowledge of public safety protocol is mind numbing, as are your hypothetical situations and not grasping the real issue in this matter.
However, I do applaud you for not inserting reference of sexual deviance or assault this time. Way to go big guy!

Walter Graff said...

I figured that Ed. I guess in the day when one could rely on character from students, provisions in contracts for 'babysitting' weren't necessary and today the old school mind prevails while the new school character defected, dysfunctional student rules. Oh well, hope it's more a success than a drugfest.

Anonymous said...


Larry Kelley said...

Actually his intentions were nothing but good. Most people take the easy way out and flush the stuff down the toiler.

So no, I'm not going to release his name.

Dr. Ed said...

Larry, either someone overreacted, or had he flushed the stuff down the toilet, Kaboom would have been more than the name of a toilet bowl cleaner.

Inquiring minds want to know, what exactly were these materials? Old gasoline or something rather interesting?

Larry Kelley said...

Since the long dead fellow responsible for the collection was a chemist I'm sure there was some interesting stuff. Not sure if the state was going to ID it first, or just dispose of it ( as though it were radioactive).

Anonymous said...

Since the long dead fellow responsible for the collection was a chemist

I'm assuming he was a professor, and this is one where I blame the college and his professional colleagues. Someone should have gone to the son and clued him in on the potential that his dad (not planning to die) might have left some stuff there that ought only be touched by a professional.

Forgotten volatile chemicals left in storage has been both a state and national issue for the past 20 years (or more) -- centering around high school and college chemistry stockrooms, there has been a BIG move to makes sure everything inside is properly labeled and to get rid of the stuff that (a) isn't used anymore, (b) is there in a volume far more than is necessary, and PARTICULARLY (c) ought not be there in the first place -- and may be more dangerous due to age.

I am thinking of one chemical in particular that is OK when wet, but when it dries into crystals, a dried-up quart of it would have taken the Fire Station off the face of the earth - and dropping the bottle would be enough to set it off. Even dynamite gets dangerous if you let it sit long enough and the nitro starts "sweating" out of it....

No, I blame the former employer and his colleagues -- someone ought to have had the professional judgment to presume that, maybe, an offer to come over and take a look at their deceased colleague's basement laboratory might have been in order.

Legal requirement - no, moral obligation - yes...

Anonymous said...

Of course you read this and seek blame, Ed...

Anonymous said...

Hope it never gets to the point of Rutgers problem:

Larry Kelley said...

Lead photo looks a lot like Phillips Street.

Anonymous said...

They make the UMPD look like the Gestapo by comparison. UMPD was deliberately targeting reporters back during the '04 Red Sox stuff.

Sooner or later, something is going to escalate way out of control at one of these events and it will make Kent State look like a Sorority Event.

It's going to happen, and I wouldn't want to be a police officer the next day, or next week, or even next year because things are going to get nasty all around.

Anonymous said...

OK, wow, where to start

I'm not sure that anyone suggested that the student firefighters assigned to Engine-3 aka "the student force" were "drunken layabouts". In fact I have said in previous posts that as a rule they are good, hardworking kids. Many of them have an interest in pursuing a career in the fire service and all of them have a sincere desire to provide a service to the town. At issue is the fact that they have very limited training and nowhere near the experience of full time firefighters. This in in no way meant to detract from their service, it is merely a fact. If you were to ask them, I would be surprised if any of them disagreed with me.

In the event of a "Box Alarm", which is the alarm that is sounded when dispatch receives a report of a structure fire, any AFD members at CDH will long as the patient had been moved from their stretcher and a report has been given to the accepting nurse. This has always been the case. I'm surprised that I have to point this out, but CDH is roughly 10 miles from the center of Amherst. Given that a typical house fire doubles in size every 30 seconds and it can take as long as 10 minutes or more for an ambulance to respond back from CDH, well, you do the math.

While it is true that it only takes one firefighter to drive a piece of apparatus to a scene, as I've pointed out more than once, fire engines do not put out fires. Firefighting is an EXTREMELY labor intensive endeavor. It is also true that police officers and others can sometimes be pressed into service dragging hose; I would no more want them to "watch water gauges" while I am in a burning building than they would want me investigating crimes or providing them back-up on a car stop in the ambulance or fire engine. They are not trained to be firefighters and should not have to be pressed into service. You may find it interesting to know that firefighters are actually trained to operate pumps and do not merely "watch water gauges".

The 6th ambulance or any ambulance for that matter, being dispatched does not automatically trigger mutual aid. When all of the on duty AFD members are committed to ambulance calls, and the student engine company is not in service, AFD will recall off duty firefighters as needed to fill 3 of the vacant spots. Mutual aid ambulances are requested when dispatch has a medical call within Amherst, or one of the other towns within our EMS service are and has no ambulance to send.

Once again, the bottom line is that the Amherst Fire Department is critically under staffed. Not just on weekends, not just when UMASS is in session, but all the time.

Jeff Parr

Anonymous said...

Our town appears to like understaffed fire and police departments. Must spend money on LSSE and tree-planting!

Anonymous said...

Jeff Parr said: I'm not sure that anyone suggested that the student firefighters assigned to Engine-3 aka "the student force" were "drunken layabouts". In fact I have said in previous posts that as a rule they are good, hardworking kids.

Jeff, what do you mean by: " a rule they are good, hardworking kids."

Does that mean that even if they aren't... they are? From the perspective of a firefighter, how does one recognize a "good kid"?

I know this is frustrating for you, but if you're gonna post comments and opinions, they ought to be well written and less vague. You're not right "as a rule" just because you're a firefighter.

The schools are understaffed as well, yeah, we know we're playing with fire, (did not intend to pun,) but we don't have any more freaking money, bro. Safety is one of our priorities but we can't have everything we want... hope you can do your best with the budget we are able to provide you guys with right now.