Last night we had search and rescue training with several different scenarios, the last scenario was a child lost inside of the building with the mother outside "freaking out" and attemtping to access the building. I have been at several fire scenes where the home owner has had to be told several times to stay back. I have never heard of any firefighter training on how to control an out of control Mother, and I know it happens.
My questions to everyone are:
1) Does your department have policies in place for distraught parents of missing/trapped children trying to access the building?
2) what are they?
3) Who should be assigned to the task of controling the parent?
4) How much "force" should be used in restraining the parent, if they are insistant on entering the building?
If you are a volunteer department, identify those members who have careers that are in the "helping" professions (teachers, counselors, pastors, etc.) They can be a great resource for working with folks who are in this situation. Personally, I have experienced calming a mother after she came running on the scene of the train/car accident where her son was seriously injured (he eventually died at the hospital). We don't have a written policy in our department but that would be a good idea.
In my particular case, I placed myself between the mother and the scene: She essentially ran into me and I hugged her and gently directed her over to a curb until we were able to get one of our folding chairs for her. The most important thing is to be able to explain what is going on. Often, people in this situation feel powerless and reminding them that we are doing all we can and having some knowledge of what is happening is crucial. I had to remind her multiple times that we were loading her son on the helicopter and that he was in good hands. She panicked when the helicopter didn't take off right away but I was able to explain that they don't always just load and go. Sometimes they do some work on the ground. Even a couple minutes seems like an eternity when it is your son/daughter.
Unless there is an immediate danger to the bystander, it is important to not use excessive force to move someone. I've found that often just talking with someone when you see them hanging around and not waiting until they are out of control is helpful. Be aware of where police officers are and enlist their help if necessary. If someone is out of control don't be afraid to enlist the help of the police on scene.
This probably goes without saying but: Don't ever lie to people. "Everything will be ok" is not honest and doesn't help. If you don't know the answer, don't make one up.
During the training last night I was acting as incident commander, I had two in and two at the door waiting as RIT, the other firefighters were staged at the pumper. I was able to stop her from going into the building and get two standby firefighters to talk to / control her.
I know these kind of situations arise, I am just wondering if there are S.O.P's in place for just such an incident.
I think the given situation was very realistic and one that isn't given much thought during training, this type of incident is very stressful and common. I believe it should be taught at some point during training.
We don't have any policies in place to deal with this... it is an excellent point.
One idea is that law enforcement can be delegated the task of dealing with family members. They are experienced with having to break bad news to people as a part of their job, and it gives them purpose at a fire scene. The police car can be an out of the way, quiet shelter away from the incident location.
Or, an EMS crew can be so utilized, and in fact may be better than LE. Some people collapse and need medical attention at a scene, and what better place to do it than in the ambulance?
In this case I think the police department would be much better suited than us. If a firefighter subdues a parent or family member from entry (and rightfully so) and the parent or family member gets injured in the process, Helloooooo Lawsuit. Its a sick and twisted world we live in now and when a family member is under stress sometimes their rational thinking processes are askewed.
Let the cops handle it. Thats their job to serve and to protect.
I haven't had to deal with distraught parents, spouses, or the like, but we did have to help a bystander/witness to a car vs. train collision. I did the same thing, spoek with her in calming tones and let her know what was going on. We also started O2 on her, but by time we cleared the scene she was alright.
I think this fits in just as well in the fire serves as it does in EMS. I am finishing up EMT class here in the next 2 weeks and we just did a training involving this. As we were told in our EMT class: 1. know your local protocols on how to deal with a situation like this. 2. Fire Police 3. Police Officers. We are lucky in my Dept to have our township cop as a member of our dept. Also utilize the Fire Police that is one of the things they are there for "to control the scene". We mainly think of the Fire Police as only for MVA's to do traffic control, but they are also there to help control access to the fireground as well. Try to calm the parent/guardian down and move them to a safe place and get ahold of either the Police or your Fire Police. Just remember it may all depend on your local protocols on how you deal with the situation.
Been There Done That-only once and we were lucky to have the info enroute and asked the cops for a priority response. when we got there (the cops were first) they had her restrained.
on a scene, i'd play it by ear and assign somebody to restrain as necessary until LE arrives. if its a question of use of force or improper touching (or whatever the're gonna call it in the courtroom or at 6 & 11) i'd say "ok you were going into the burning building without protective equipment and do...what?) i'd allways err on the side of caution and worry about liability later
As a policy i would suggest that you act for the good of safety of the civilian and classify it as a "person interfering with operations" and have LE respond and take a person in to "protective custody". Once restrained i'd detail a FF, officer or PIO to respond and talk to them and explain what is going on as is reasonable. This was a great post and a good training subject
We assign a medic to the parent because they certainly are a "victim" also. We also get law enforcement on scene as quickly as possible, then finally a counselor like a chaplain from a neighboring department that responds county-wide. We recently had an accidental fatality involving a 4-year-old and while resuscitation efforts were going on inside the box the mother made several attempts to enter the ambulance. She was restrained by LE until the chaplain arrived.
We are a combination paid/POC dept. and we always have an officer respond on any call. We will have the officers handle the family member BUT if no officer is there then I think that it needs to be an officer on the dept. that needs to deal with this critical time.