IAFF REDMOND SYMPOSIUM ON
FIREFIGHTER HEALTH & SAFETY
|By Terry Smith|
|Despite the tragic events of Sept. 11, in New York, the Redmond Symposium convened in Phoenix, Arizona during September 23 to 27th. Ironically, part of the symposiums program dealt with Weapons of Mass Destruction and Biological Warfare. New York Fire Chief Peter Ganci was slated for a key presentation before his fate was met in the World Trade Center disaster. A heartfelt opening presentation from President Schaitberger and Sect-Treasurer Bollon reflected the somber and subdued reactions of the thousand firefighter representatives. Bollon, a former officer and union representative of New York Officers, Local #854, was shaken as he described the events of the disaster and his personal loss of many lifelong friends. We were honored to have the New York City Medical Director, David Prezant, who witnessed the disaster first hand from ground zero 911 center. He was able to run to partial safety under the Army Street Bridge when the first tower collapsed. Digging himself out of the initial rubble; he struggled to safety going from pitch black space eventually to light gray dust in the area of Battery Park. He gathered other individuals, commandeered paramedic supplies and established contact with authorities to set up a triage station. The triage station did not meet the expectations of major casualties and generally treated rescue personnel with eye and lung irritations.
The Redmond Symposium convened for its fifteenth time with the same goal since its inception, to promote education, research, and discussion on occupational hazards and diseases associated with firefighting. The four-day conference has daily morning sessions, which feature keynote speakers addressing the most current health and safety issues. This year topics included: the N.F.P.A. 1710 Standard on fire department organization, the World Trade Center Disaster and rescue effort, thermal imaging Devices, Wellness-Fitness Initiatives, Update on Hepatitis C nationwide, Line of Duty Death and Injury Investigations, and Weapons of Mass Destruction. After lunch delegates broke into workshops which delineated more refined safety topics of our profession. These workshops discussed specific incidents, which have occurred in fire jurisdictions, and how they managed such. Several fire department representatives discussed their journey in Wellness- Fitness Programs, Fatality Investigations, New Fire Equipment Technology, and their use of C.P.A.T. for entrance tests.
As a representative of your Health and Safety Committee, we have recommended to the past four fire chiefs a number of issues which are reiterated in NFPA1700 and through several speeches resounded throughout this conference. The SFFD needs to establish a Health and Safety Officer who would coordinate department education, operation and response on health and safety. A two-page recommendation outlining the Safety Officer Position has been forwarded. We need a core investigative team which can investigate all serious and fatal accidents which occur to firefighters, a two-page document outlining the criteria for such a team has been forwarded to the chief. We have sent forth a recommendation for all firefighters to respond to working incidents in full turnouts, a practice performed by most all jurisdictions. Finally, we have recommended the adoption of the CPAT test for all entering firefighters.