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Summary of Line of Duty Death and severe injury
LODD (Line of Duty Death) refers to death that may occur to a firefighter staff in the course of discharging his or her duties. In certain situations, the member may sustain serious injury that compromises their ability to engage in any income generating activity. Incidences in the line of duty include death at then accident scene, death on hospital arrival, death while undergoing medication or later death due to unseen injuries. Such disaster leaves the family in utter grief and throws the surviving team in deep mourning. LODD or serious injury policy offers guidelines on the dos and don’ts in ensuring the life of the victim is saved and the concerned family receives the benefits entitled to them. According to this policy, the fire department should come up with documented procedures on the protocol to be followed in handling the matter.
A group of persons with knowledge on the insurance policies of the company should be appointed to render assistance to the family in the filing of claim forms. Members of this group are identified by tittle and position and not by name. On the minimum, there are certain tasks that must be fulfilled by the set procedures. First, all agencies to be informed and the available insurance benefits listed. The process of filing the claim forms should be documented. A technique of handling the media, making press releases, informing the beneficiaries and providing them with the necessary assistance should be identified. All the essential information for filling the claim forms in case of investigative reports is provided in a list form. Since, an autopsy is necessary, all the processes required in securing authorization from the family members are documented. Moreover, details of the religious representatives should be availed (Theriault, p. 18).
Depending on the location of the firefighter, the recommended autopsy guideline should be followed, and restraint exercised in the issuing of statements that relate to the incident. Speculations area not allowed, and where no facts are available, the department should state so. In addition, the department should have a checklist for all its personnel to be used in the occurrence of such an incident (Corzine et al. 2).
The policy gives the names of the agencies to be notified, the benefits to the family of the deceased and the proposed autopsy procedure. It states the procedure of conducting the fire safety investigation besides offering a guideline on how to structure the both checklists for the incident scene and hospital scene. In addition, it provides a post-incident contact list structure. All the fire departments are then supposed to develop their policies along these suggested guidelines. Alteration or additions are allowed, but the basic structure should remain the same.
Safety program to be improved
A safety program as concerns the fire service is a measure put in place to reduce the incidents of LODDs or serious injuries in case of incidences of fire. In order to identify the appropriate safety measures, the causes of these LODDs must be determined. According to a study conducted by Moore-Merrell et al. (p. 4), the consistent contributing factors to LODDs are health, individual protective equipment and human error. Though these contributing factors may occur together, the highest number of deaths is due to health or fitness issues. This cause is placed as a cluster of the factors including the department staffing, guidelines on operation and the health/aptness. All these fall under the immediate control of the firefighter himself or the officers in charge. The execution of guidelines, allocation of duties and planning of the rescue mission is not properly handled increases LODDs. In certain instances, the number of staff allocated to a particular rescue mission is smaller than the required number. This leads to exhaustion of staff increasing their risk of injury or death. Understaffing of the fire firefighters engine companies and other equipments that could result in risky delays is another reason. In addition, the fire fighters engage in the rescue exercise in the basement fires without ensuring adequate ventilation thus increasing the risk of death through suffocation. Fire fighters are sometimes not tested to establish their eligibility for the exercise. For instance, those with cardiovascular problems are forced into burning buildings increasing their death risk through cardiovascular related complications. Moreover, fire fighters undergoing stress are entrusted with duties that require deep concentration.
In order to reduce LODDs due to the above cluster of contributing factors, the operation guidelines and staff numbers must be improved for any change to be felt. All the fire departments should be critically analyzed and the sufficient number of necessary staff established. Advertisements should be made and interviews conducted in order to hire the right staff for the job. Any building identified to be on fire should have all its exits forced open and communication between the officers inside and outside properly maintained. Moreover, before entry into any building, adequate ventilation should be provided. Assessment of the risk of entry into building on fire should be made through advanced imaging technology. To ensure proper health of the firefighters, health checkup should be conducted during interviews and an annual medical check for all possible ailments maintained. Exercise programs should developed in order to ensure the firefighter is fit for duty. By observing these suggested solutions, the number of firefighter lives lost due to fire can be greatly reduced (Moore-Merell, p. 39).
- Corzine , Jon, Doria, Joseph and Lawrence Petrillo. “Firefighter Line of Duty Death and Serious Injury Guidelines”. 2008. Web.
- Moore-Merell, Lori, McDonald Sue, Zhou Ainong, Elise Fisher and Jonathan Moore. “Contributing factors to Firefighter Line-of-duty Death in the United States”. 2006.
- Theriault, Andre. “Line-of-duty Death: Developing a standard Operating Procedure”. 2002.