The other night at 3:30 AM my department responded to a MVA with DOA. a member of my department was seen driving by the firehouse. not stopping to go on a call, seems like he only shows when its a structure fire, or is already at station. What would you have done, stopped at station or continued going on, knowing your department could use you. and also lets turn this into a more chanllenging game. Since Jan. 1, 2010, how many calls have you been on?

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As a volunteer, it depends totally on why I wouldn't stop. Perhaps on the way to work that I simply had to go to (job comes before volunteering). Perhaps on the way to support a family member (family comes before volunteering). Perhaps going home from work because I was ill. Could be one of many reasons. Yes it could also be one of those people who chooses what calls to attend, we have some of them.

Me? 118 out of 148 for this calendar year.
A few more reasons, someone might skip a call or a few or even a few months - having a kid with them or waiting for them, not feeling well or having alcohol in their system, stress or fatigue, family/marital problems, personal injury, family responsibilities and primary job responsibilties... or even worse maybe he had a death in his family... or even a death of someone he loves in an MVA recently.

I know after I personally was in an MVA - I did not want to go to car accidents from almost 6 months because I was too distracted.

Part of being your best, is setting personal boundaries and knowing when you should step back and trust the others to carry the load.

I would rather have my guys show up for structure fires only - than no calls at all - if that is what they feel best suited for in their service to my department, I will take them when I can get them. I will be grateful for anytime that they can donate and will support any time that they need a break.

I also like people to know their strengths and weaknesses and if they have to pick calls, then they come to the calls where their strengths instead of their weaknesses shine...

Early on, I went to calls where I was so tired or stressed that I made mistakes, or went injured increasing risk. Now that I am older, I am wiser... I do not get out of bed when I know that I am too tired to safely drive - let along manage an emergency scene.

"Knowing your department could use you" is not the only measure of whether it is a good idea to respond to a call. There are so many more factors.

And on more than one scene I have had to mention to my colleagues that they smell of alcohol and there are plenty of staff on scene so that they can go and we will take care of it. I do not ever want to be on scene where someone accuses one of us of being intoxicated during an emergency. And as you know, alcohol stays in your system for a while.

And as far as support, maybe drop your colleague a simple phone call and say "hey buddy, we missed you the other day... how are things going for you these days?" Be a friend... (so on your wife's birthday when she demands that you NOT go to calls and that you get home and spend time with her... this same friend will understand and will cover your back at the next big structure fire.)

But I know, it can be a little disappointing when certain staff members do not show up on a scene when you have come to rely on them... and their skills are already laid out in your mind for this particular scene. (We want John to run the JAWS, we want Mike to do patient care, we want Bill to do fire suppression, while Sam does a good job of blocking the car and managing scene safety) I get it, we like to have our people there all the time !!!

It really is not a race or competition. Time and energy and age play a significant role in number of calls a person can run each year - each season - and each phase of their life.

btw Part of being a good team member is knowing when you are the member of the team that needs to be taking a break - just as we do with rehab during large fires. And part of being a good team member it putting yourself on time-out if you need it.

Just some thoughts...
Here's an idea- why doesn't someone from the Hierarchy of the department speak to this person and find mout the real reason?

Melvin, your profile says you're from Pricetown Volunteer Fire Department. I'd suggest that you be careful in airing dirty laundry such as this, in these forums. Things bite....
You're right Heather - "not a race or competition". By checking up and putting my stats in I was doing just that, and it's irrelevant. As I always say to the people in my Brigade, I'm retired from work, I'm available, I turn out; it doesn't make me any better than others.

You mentioned the breath smelling of alcohol? That is one thing I will not do, if I've had a drink I will not breath fumes over a member of the public, other fire service or police, I will not turn out. I drink very little, and am always well under the limit and OK to drive after drink away from home, but I won't answer my pager.
a member of my department was seen driving by the firehouse. not stopping to go on a call, seems like he only shows when its a structure fire, or is already at station. What would you have done, stopped at station or continued going on, knowing your department could use you.

Does it matter? Hence the term VOLUNTEER. Unless you have a contract and are compensating for time and making a duty type of requirement to respond, then there really is nothing to gripe about. The person is free to respond however they want. If you want to demand people respond, then don't be a volunteer dept.
Tony has a great point. Volunteer vs. career makes a big difference here. If a career guy does not want to respond to MVAs and his department is expected to respond, he is in the wrong line of work. If a volunteer signed up to fight fires, but can not stand the sight of blood or trauma, he would have every right to just not respond. This needs to be a personal decision, and the member should have this worked out with the command structure so they are not expecting a higher turnout.

If you are lucky enough to live in an area where people are beating down the department door to join, perhaps you can specify that you need people to be willing to do all hazards. My department has a standing rule, if you are not cut out for something, that is not a problem. But you had better let us know BEFORE we ask you to do it. This goes for medical, MVA, ladder work, SCBA, whatever.

The bottom line is fighting fire takes a lot of manpower, MVAs are not as much, and medical runs are even less. If you stock up on firefighters, hopefully you will have a rounded department that will be able to handle what is being asked.
I agree with all the comments so far. That being said, if it bothers you that much that the member didn't stop for the call ask them "whats up?" They may have some other pressing matter to attend to.
He's a volunteer. He doesn't have to respond to every run.

How many calls have I been on? Who knows. I don't know anybody that keeps count. Maybe around 1000? My engine company is at about 3000 for the year. My department is over 100,000.
Ask yourself this. Is he even worth dragging to a fire?
"dragging" excellent point...
willing and able is so much more effective
Hence volunteer. What do you do keep a log of how many calls you run. Is that a volunteer thing ?
Perhaps it is a volunteer thing.

When smaller towns with tight budgets are involved the department must justify the need for town funds - with number of calls, number of staff used, cost of gear, etc. etc. etc. They can even make efforts to calculate staff hours - # of staff x # of hours on each call. You get the point.

Career firefighters may say "I went to work today."
Volunteers may say "I went to work today at X,Y, Z and then I ran 3 FD calls."

Perhaps like full-time military (who may count days on leave) compared to military reserves (who may count days deployed)?

They also have to justify to their families where they have been - since it is above and beyond the traditional job. So when the wife says, where ya been for 15 hours... "After work, I ran 3 calls." It can also go the other way, "Honey, we had 6 calls today, but I only went to 3." (meaning - so appreciate my efforts to focus on the family too).

Also, it can relate to training and keeping up on your skills. Career has tight training logs, while volunteer maybe more relaxed. Often medical staff is more tightly monitored to meet licensure deadlines, while firefighters may not be using certain skills consistently. Volunteer firefighters begin to notice if they are not seeing a skill-set exercised by a colleague - such as if you have not seen Luke drive a truck in 3 years, you start to question his skills; or if you have not seen Diane at a car accident in many months, you start to consider their ability to work within the team. I personally am nervous when I see someone show up to do patient care who has not been to a medical call or training in over a year - especially if they are newer members!

Where Ralph mentions being required to attend 20% - that follows the same rule - people want to see that you still have some skills and commitment. Trainings are often voluntary - but if you miss too many, they can quickly become mandatory. Some of counting attendance can be considered - on the job training. Such as I remember the 1st time I did CPR on an actual human person - my chief walked in and said "Heather, you're doing CPR now" - I remember I had just passed my CPR class the day before! My chief likes on the job training. For the next 2 months, he made me do CPR every time, while the other senior medical staff watched. At the end of 2 months, he never asked me again, and no other medical staff member questioned my skills.

Career workers may have better continuity among each shift and department, volunteers may dominantly divide by task - such as medical vs. fire or night calls vs. day calls or in a certain area of the district closest to certain firefighters private homes vs. timbuktu calls.

There can also be a great deal of pride in volunteering - which is the idea of a volunteer... right, to give up something of yourself for the benefit of another without compensation. Counting calls can be affirmation of success that they are helping their community in providing a personal service.

In general it can be a little bizarre - at some times I could say I attended more than 90% of the calls, at other times less than 30%. Career staff can not say I showed up 90% or 30% of the time. Career also has scheduled time off, where as, vollies may justify time off by cataloging "for the last year I ran 90% of the calls, so I can take a few months off."

Just some thoughts.

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