From the Chicago Sun-Times article:
The decision to strip paramedics of equipment bought just for them was announced in a May 4 memo signed by Assistant Deputy Fire Commissioner Mark Nielsen, who runs the Bureau of Operations.
The memo outlines a schedule of pick-up locations and dates starting May 15 and ending June 5.
“Items to be returned are: (1) bunker coat, (1) bunker pants, (1) bunker suspenders. In addition, paramedic field chiefs shall return their … face pieces,” Nielsen said.
This regression is an interesting turn of events considering that most agencies are looking to bring their Fire service and EMS divisions closer together. This move looks to drive them further apart.
Reportedly in an e-mail to the Chicago Sun-Times the Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford wrote “They have had it for a long time, but it’s clear they did not need it because they are NEVER sent into an area where they need to wear such gear.”
I do have a problem with that statement. Having worked in the New York City 9-1-1 system there was indeed a time when we were not issued bunker gear as PPE either. There were a few times when having it would have been helpful, such as the time I had to retrieve a patient from beneath the hoses she had been tangled under after crawling out of her apartment that was spewing forth smoke and flame as the firefighters valiantly fought the fire. Then of course a few high profile building collapses later, and sure enough turnout gear was declared as “PPE” and became mandatory.
The truth is to say that you are NEVER sent into an area where you need to wear such gear is a bold statement illustrating inexperience on the speaker’s part. This type of mentality is what concerns me, because undoubtedly down the road there will be some accusations against Chicago Fire Paramedics for staying away from an event where it has been perceived they were needed. The truth is that had the Paramedics been properly equipped they undoubtedly would have been where they were needed.
The assumption and the tone from the Chicago Fire Department for the removal is what I find the most troubling and adds to the validity of the argument against fire based EMS agencies. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments…