Mark Bernas
  • 45, Male
  • Buffalo, New York
  • United States
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Profile Information

Type of Organization
Fire/Rescue Department - Volunteer
Job Function
President / Administrator / Commissioner, Training Officer, Lieutenant, Firefighter / Paramedic (or Other ALS)
Years in Fire/EMS:
It's been 17 years since my first EMT class, but truthfully, I've only been active since 2000.
Primary Fire/EMS Department:
Newton Abbott Fire Company, Hamburg, New York
Years With Department/Agency
9
Dept. Web Site:
http://newtonabbottfire.com
Web Site:
http://townofhamburgny.com
Other Past or Current Departments and Organizations
I'm currently a part-time quality analyst with Rural/Metro Medial Services of Western New York. I spent six years in the field as an advanced EMT, before accepting a full-time position in QA/QI... before promptly accepting a new full-time position as a public safety dispatcher with my local police/fire department.
My Training:
I challenged the FF1 exam a few years back, and was the first in my department to receive the credential. I've taken a variety of courses ranging from Fire Police Operations to Commanding The Initial Response. I enjoy a balance of classroom theory and practical application. I've taken the Firefighter Survival course numerous times through NY State, as well as several similar courses at FDIC and through a local seminar in which I worked with some paid guys from Buffalo Fire, and John Salka from the FDNY. More recently I took Fire and Emergency Services Instructor I at the NYS Fire Academy, and took the national exam while I was at it. Did well.

Other courses include:

Basic Firefighter
Intermediate Firefighter
Apparatus Operator - Pump
Weapons of Mass Destruction, Basic Concepts
Fire Behavior and Arson Awareness
Hazardous Materials First Responder Operations
FAST
Emergency Vehicle Operations
Mask Confidence/Smoke Divers
Accident Victim Extrication
Erie County EOC Orientation
FBI Dirty Bombs awareness course
ICS 100
IS 00200
IS 0300
IS 00700
IS 00800
EMT Intermediate
Pediatric Advanced Life Support
Basic Trauma Life Support
International Trauma Life Support (Advanced Instructor Course)
AHA CPR/AED (Instructor)
AHA Basic 1st Aid Instructor
CEVO II Instructor
Fire and Emergency Services Instructor I
About Me:
US Marine Corps veteran of Iraq, volunteer firefighter/officer/EMT, paid Public Safety Dispatcher. I love travel, writing, and photography, long walks on the beach, and so on... ;) I drink too much coffee, love good flavorful beer, wine, and spend entirely too much time on Facebook and MySpace.
Day Job:
Police and Fire Dispatcher... swing shift.
Relationship Status:
Single
Facebook or Other Online Profile:
http://www.myspace.com/uniformbravo
Why I Joined Fire/EMS
It's something of a family business, not an unusual thing in the volunteer fire service in New York. My dad's great uncle (I think I have the proper relation) was a charter member of the Scranton Volunteer Fire Company in my hometown of Hamburg. My grandfathers were members of the Scranton and Lake Shore Fire companies, my uncles were (or are) all with Scranton, and my dad is currently Chief of the North Boston Fire Company, just outside Hamburg. While I put off becoming involved with the fire service until I was into my mid twenties, I found that the opportunity to serve my community in this way brought me a lot of enjoyment.
Why I Love Fire/EMS
The public service, the adventure, and the very unique camraderie.
Top Issues Facing Responders:
Issues facing the emergency services community vary widely, depending largely upon location, population density, and natural environment. In the particular area in which I serve, the fire service is in a time of large-scale transition. I believe that the demand for professional, efficient service is increasing, with the way being led by none other than EMS. I've long said that the days of volunteer EMS are over, though the fire companies don't know it yet. We live under a redundant, "tiered" system that would work better if the commercial paramedic support served in its stated role as backup for the primary care providers, the volunteers. Realistically speaking, this isn't the case; the paid commercial system, which is continually under tremendous stress due to a complex variety of factors including increasing call volume, manpower issues, waiting times at hospitals, and 911/ambulance misuse and abuse, is left holding the short end of the stick when both rigs arrive on scene at a call. If the "vollies" don't want to take it, they don't, regardless of the fact that the patient's complaints are manageable by their level of care, and they responded to the scene with lights and sirens.

Paid commercial paramedic ambulances don't grow on trees.

I see this problem forcing change in the coming years, as the volume of request for advanced-level emergency medical services continues to increase with the aging of the "Baby Boomer" generation. The obsolesence of the old system, in place with only minor changes since the 1930's, will become glaringly apparent.

And where will that leave the fire service? Who knows. The biggest difference between the systemic issues facing EMS and fire is merely call volume. The firematic aspect of the volunteer service doesn't appear quite so outmoded because it isn't truly required as frequently. Perhaps, unlike the increasing needs for EMS, fires will continue to become more and more infrequent as building construction and safety awareness continues to make fire prevention the first strike in a fire fight.

Additionally, training, discipline, and safety awareness continue to be in the forefront of critical issues facing the fire service in general, and the volunteer branch in particular. In New York State, 80% (or more) of the fire/EMS providers are strictly volunteer.

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Comment Wall (53 comments)

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At 5:02pm on January 28, 2009, Amy said…
Just wanted to say Hi and to be safe out there..
At 9:50am on December 15, 2008, Chad Witkowski said…
Happy holidays bro...
At 5:18pm on December 2, 2008, Big Al Dente said…
Hey Big Al is back. Tell your female friends to stop by and be my friend...please
At 4:57pm on December 2, 2008, Big Al Dente said…
Sorry Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch- I was on the run- Some folks like Squirrel for Thanksgiving rather then the Traditional Turkey! I had to lay low.
Hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving!
The Great Belt buckle was from a GRET Flea Market I went to in Florida when I was on Spring break in '99. It takes a long time for a Squirrel to get around this great US of A!
Big Al!
At 4:14pm on November 27, 2008, Kimberly A Bownas said…
Happy Thanksgiving and hope you are enjoying the day with the family....
At 6:07am on November 27, 2008, Big Al Dente said…
Welcome to the Nation!
Big Al
At 8:59pm on November 13, 2008, Tiger Schmittendorf said…
Hey Buddy -

Loved your pix on Flickr. I'm always looking for stock photos for my work. I'll keep you in mind for the photo credit.
At 4:19pm on September 6, 2008, Mark Bernas said…
Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes!
At 2:52pm on September 6, 2008, Randy said…
Happy B-day Mark hope all is well
At 12:26pm on September 6, 2008, Dave, NB 9 said…
Happy Birthday to you..... Happy Birthday tooooo, youuuuu.
 
 
 

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