After being asked a few times since my return home about things that CFD could potentially do to address some of the current challenges I jotted down a few ideas. Some are old and familiar to those who have followed me. Others may be new.
But, what I would like to start by saying is this: The CFD does an amazing job and has an excellent group of women and men who are among the best Firefighters and Paramedics in this nation. Nothing that I ever write should ever be construed as me suggesting otherwise. I only offer my ideas because of my unique background and the experiences I have had over my twenty plus years in Public Safety.
When you dispatch in the busiest department in the country and for some of the craziest days in that busiest department's history, you learn a few things. And I feel those things are worth sharing. Even more than from the busy days, I have learned from my mentors in the fire service. Many of whom served right here in Columbus. It is from them I learned how to do relocations, even before I made it to the FDNY. It is from conversations with "Township Medics" that I first learned about the importance of having a priority based EMS system, and it was from a few really nasty Central Ohio Thunderstorms that I first learned about resource management.
Take these suggestions as you will. Hopefully they start a conversation. The one truth that is inescapable is that Columbus will keep growing, the calls will keep coming and that some improvements in the System will yield positive dividends for responders and the public.
1) Move away from AVL based dispatching, especially for BLS EMS Runs
a. Reporting should be divided into a more precise number of segments
i. BLS, ALS, Other, Structure Fire, Non Structure Fire
ii. Assignment of BLS and other should be to a CFD unit unless the CFD unit is greater than 10 minutes away
b. Personnel should be trained not to assign township medics to city runs when those units are coming out of a hospital far from their service area)
c. MCI units should be assigned additional medics that are close but that do not deplete resources in an entire area of town. (assign every other medic, or assign from different areas of the city)
2) Switch to ETA based assignments—which include average time of dispatch for Automatic Aid Units—improving response time and reducing reliance and dependency
3) Improve Move-Up Functionality
a. Only move up when companies are long term out of service (> 30 minutes)
b. Utilize “1 in 3” rule (when 3 adjacent like type units are not available long term—move up one unit to cover that area)
c. Do not assign move-up companies to the original incident unless there is a critical life safety need
4) Assign EMT driver to outlying Medic Transport Units (5, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34)
a. This can be accommodated in CAD to ensure they respond alone expect on Arrest
b. Ensures Paramedics remain available for next incident in the same area.
c. Extra firefighter available in remote areas in the event of a working fire
5) Add 800 series medic units at additional stations
a. Daytime 800 series: Williams Road; Station 241; Station 33; Station 162
b. Agreements should be established to house CFD units at county stations until city stations can be built in underserved areas
6) Utilize the 800 Series Units to “Move-Up” into areas with depleted resources
a. In the event that several adjacent medic units are transporting, the 800 series units can be redeployed to serve those areas without depleting resources
7) Remove Engines from Difficulty Breathing and Chest-Pain Call-Types
8) Improve coordination and management of resources as well as firefighter safety by streamlining radio channel operations
a. Introduce Fire Operations Channel and EMS Operations Channel
b. All Units will stay on these channels at all times
c. Runs will be “aired” only one time—unless unit has not acknowledged
d. Fire Units will switch to assign Tac Talkgroup on arrival at scene.
e. Fire and EMS Voice Dispatch (Locution) will be for the benefit of stations only
9) Alarm Office Personnel should be more consistently assigned to the FAO—“part-time” dispatching is not effective in a large city environment—this could include a regular rotation with gaps filled by Overtime
10) CAD programming should be enhanced to take advantage of:
a. Redirection of units to higher-priority units
b. The display of a large map with firehouses, units and active incidents so that dispatchers and officers have improved spatial awareness and an understanding of the impact of incidents on response time.