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THMG021 – Communications

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In this episode Mike and Bob discuss the topic of communicating while in a Hazardous Materials operation.

TOPIC: Communication in Haz Mat

  1. 06:16 What is communications?
    1. The giving and receiving of information
      1. For the most part we do this verbally, but there is also methods that we use such as body language and facial expressions that communicate more than just the words. We sometimes lose these nuances with communications over radio, and lose even more through a plastic suit
        1. Understanding of the information that is being transmitted
        2. Decisions will be made based on this flow of information
  2. 07:20 Why do we communicate?
    1. operator safety
    2. transmittal of orders
    3. changes in tactics
    4. accountability
  3. 08:50 Is communication required or just a good idea?
    1. NFPA requires that all levels of PPE have a method of communicating
      1. ******THIS HAS NOT COME OUT YET_________NFPA 1802: STANDARD ON PERSONAL PORTABLE (HAND-HELD) TWO-WAY RADIO COMMUNICATIONS DEVICES FOR USE BY EMERGENCY SERVICES PERSONNEL IN THE HAZARD ZONE
  4. 10:25 Why do we need good communications?
    1. Good radio procedures will make us look professional
    2. How well we communicate will be one way that we are judged, maybe the only way
    3. There can be Legal implications
    4. Communication in this time can be used in Court cases to support either the employer or the employee. Everyone has a recording device, and can hear you.
    5. Communications are a major factor in how we handle an emergency
      1. There are many documented occurrences where there was a breakdown or lack of effective communication that led to a fatality or injury
  5. 14:18 It’s for all these reasons that many departments have a need for written procedures on how we communicate?
    1. This will serve as a basis for training
    2. We need to train on these communication procedures just as we train on our other SOG
    3. Should be used for post incident de-briefing
  6. 15:20 Communication is so important that should if we lose our primary method of communicating, we need a secondary method of communicating
    1. This is especially important in splash and vapor protection suits
    2. Hand signals should be established for events such as:
      1. Loss of air supply
      2. Loss of suit integrity
      3. Buddy down
      4. Loss of radio communications
    3. 17:30 We should also establish an emergency signal
      1. It should indicate an immediate evacuation of the hot zone.
      2. Should be audible such as horns and sirens
      3. Also broadcast over the radios
  7. 18:30 Five steps for effective communications
    1. Step 1
      1. THINK about what you are going to say
      2. FORMULATE what you are going to say in your head before you speak
        1. Make the message short and to the point
        2. Make the message clear
    2. Step 2
      1. You need to get the attention of the receiver
    3. Step 3
      1. Transmit the message
        1. Via the radio
        2. Or face to face communications if we don’t have radios
        3. Speak slowly and clearly
        4. Don’t yell
        5. Hold the microphone 2-3 inches from the mouth, or when using an SCBA facepiece – against the voicemitter duct or transmitting diaphram
        6. Visually
          1. Use hand signals
          2. Signs
          3. Body language
    4. Step 4
      1. The receiver receives the message
      2. Let the sender know that you are ready to receive the message
      3. Try to lessen the background noise
    5. Step 5
      1. Acknowledge the receipt of the message
        1. 10-4 or whatever your Department uses to communicate that the message was received.
        2. does this mean I received the message or that the message was understood and being complied with?
          1. Repeat the message back to the sender
  8. 26:20 Emergency communications
    1. MAYDAY
      1. I owe you my life. This is what we use to remember the times that a maday should be given in our department.
      2. IMMINENT COLLAPSE
      3. COLLAPSE OCCURRED
      4. UNCONSCIOUS/life threatening injury FF
      5. MISSING FF
      6. LOSTFF
      7. We probably won’t be dealing with too much of the collapse, but the downed FF or even the missing or lost is definitely a possibility.
    2. 29:50 URGENTS
      1. Member has an injury that is not life threatening
      2. Exterior attack
      3. Fire exposure
      4. Water loss
      5. Anytime a Change in Conditions will Severely Impact an Operation or the Safety of Members
    3. What happens when we transmit one of these messages?
      1. I/C takes control of the frequency
      2. All other radio communications STOP immediately
      3. I/C Contacts member or unit transmitting emergency
      4. The radio frequency must remain clear until the MAYDAY or URGENT is cleared by the I/C
  9. 33:15 So how do we communicate in suits?
    1. It is not the same as fireground communications
    2. We will have multiple layers of protection on, unlike a fireground where you may or may not have a facepiece on.
    3. Gloves and dexterity may be reduced making operating buttons difficult if not impossible
    4. There was nothing more annoying as a firefighter than having and outside position with a hook in one hand and a halligan in the other winding your way up a narrow fire escape with people coming down it, and all of a sudden your officer or chief calls to find out conditions in the rear.
    5. Similarly, when you’re forcing a door and masking up at the fire apartment or crawling around in zero visibility and the chief calls looking for an update.
    6. It also works for a member in a level A suit, or simply bunker gear at a HM incident.
    7. There are two sides to look at to remedy this: For the company officer or FF on the inside “working” the incident, be proactive. Don’t wait for the IC to call you. Beat him to the punch.
      1. ”HM1 entry to Command. We’ve reached the leaking cylinder and are evaluating it and searching for the precise spot of the leak” for example. or “We have a fire in Apt 4D we’re forcing the door and we have a medium smoke condition in the public hallway.” Or “We’ve forced entry and primary search is in progress”. After a report like that, the chief or IC will leave you alone for a while.
      2. Similarly, as the IC remote from the incident, fire, or hot zone, you must be patient and understand that the men in the hot zone/fire apartment are “heavily engaged” as we used to say, and don’t ask too often or too quickly for updates.
      3. If both sides of the communication realize these things, it makes for a much smoother and less frustrating exchange of information, without sacrificing exchange of important information.
      4. “This was brought up by our salty, experienced and loveable Captain… a ghetto truckie turned HazMat Specialist”. Thank Captain Smith!
  10. 36:08 Portable radios
    1. remote microphones
      1. can be fit with throat or bone conduction mics and hovering speakers to aid in suit communications
      2. Some setups have large chest mounted buttons
        1. Pros and cons
  11. In suit communications
    1. Use the fireground as the communication?
    2. Change channels for the downrange team?
    3. VOX settings make life easy, also transmitting unintended communications…
  12. 38:40 Intrinsic safety of communications
  13. 41:20 Thoughts on communications in HM scenes
    1. How long will the mode of communication take to setup and use
      1. Comparison of being quick and possibly not properly prepared (like a failure downrange) and taking our time to make time…
    2. weight considerations
    • effect on facepiece weight, helmets, fatigue
  • 43:05 How secure is your channel?
    • News listening in
    • terrorists listening in on operations
  • 46:05 Battery considerations
  • tips on transmitting chemical names?
  • 50:45 Performing a PAR (Personnel Accountability Report)
  • Knowledge of your Department’s radio code if you use them, or do you use plain language?