Did you get enough training so far this week? Because you are a proud and
professional firefighter, I already know your answer. So allow me to offer some more.

Here’s a little something to think about: Is everyone on the same page regarding MAYDAY's on the fireground?

Many departments have “talked” about MAYDAY’s, maybe even practiced one on
that burn down in September, remember? No, seriously, do you remember?

MAYDAY’s are like aircraft crashes- very rare but we’d better be ready to act decisively when they occur. This is when you need to be at your peak performance. It’s Showtime.

  • Have you put much thought into what you should do if confronted with a situation in which you need to initiate a MAYDAY?
  • Do you know what information to give on the radio?
  • Have you heard of the acronym LUNAR? Quick- what does it stand for?
  • As you come to realize you are having the worse day of your life, will you able to verbalize that information succinctly and effectively?
  • How will the other members of your own company respond to a MAYDAY report from a company operating nearby?
  • Is some form personal accountability utilized on EVERY incident?

The time to answer these questions is now, BEFORE the crisis, so that your actions will be effective and REFLEXIVE. Your ability to respond to this nightmarish event WILL make the difference between a successful outcome and a department funeral.

So What Should I Do?

Start with a thorough review your department's SOP's/SOG's on initiating and reacting to a fireground MAYDAY. Sit down with your company and make sure that you understand what will be expected of you should a MAYDAY occur.

Sadly, there are still some departments out there without an SOP/SOG for MAYDAY’s. If that’s your case, don’t let that stop you. Step up. Draft one up with your group and submit it to the proper people on your department. Get the ball rolling. That's what separates the leaders from the wanna-bees. Besides, it’s your ass on the line, too.

Practice verbalizing your own MAYDAY. Actually performing this task will make it more AUTOMATIC for you when the feces hits the fan. That’s where you want to be in your head- AUTOMATICALLY ACTING.

Review the responsibilities of each crew operating at your incident when a MAYDAY is called. Do you drop everything and save the firefighter? Ignoring your assignment in the fire is called freelancing, and it can kill your trapped comrades, as well as those who need to effect a rescue.

Bottom Line: Everyone on your department needs to be on the same page so that you act REFLEXIVELY and EFFICIENTLY together when a MAYDAY is called.

* * * * *

Watch this video from the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation ‘Courage to be Safe Program’ of a MAYDAY in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It will get your juices flowing to make sure you are all on the same page.

» The Mayday - "Are you ready?"
Kevin Sehlmeyer, Chief of Training, Grand Rapids Fire Department (MI)

Next Steps:

If you haven’t already done so, visit the Everyone Goes Home Website and take advantage of the Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives Resource Kit Volumes 1 – 4. DVD’s 1, 2, and 3 offered for viewing on this page.Then click
to request a copy of DVD #4 be sent to you free of charge.

Finally, share them with every firefighter you can. Keep on training. small;"">Help spread the word.Help get your team better prepared so that Everyone Goes Home.

Stay Stoked!


P.S.-Send me a note on a MAYDAY in which you may have been involved. Share your experience so that others may benefit!

John Mitchell is a fire Lieutenant and paramedic in suburban Chicago. He is a fire and EMS instructor, certified fire investigator and Chicago Blackhawks fan. He is the editor of FireDaily and co-creator of FirefighterNetCast.

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Comment by Rusty Mancini on February 26, 2010 at 11:40pm
John, Good stuff my friend. What I found concerning in practicing MayDays, is that some firefighters on the fire ground don't even hear a MayDay call come in over the radio.

There are times when firefighters are huddle in groups while on the scene shooting the bull about whatever, and not paying attention to the radio traffic. When practicing MayDay calls the one calling the MayDay, their tone and excitement is nothing like we have listen to in audios of real world MayDay calls.

We teach our folks that when on the scene pay close attention to all radio traffic due to from what we have learned from others in a real world MayDay call, is the one that is calling it in, is frantic, putting it out there fast, and sometimes hard to understand them. Like you have said, practice for what could be the real deal.
Comment by Art "ChiefReason" Goodrich on February 25, 2010 at 6:18pm
Great information that should be included in any SOP for MayDays.
Excellent video with audio.
LUNAR it is.

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