Monday, July 27, 2009

A Firefighter Replies - Part 2

Question: "Great idea - I have so many!

If I'm ever in a serious car accident, and I'm unconscious at the scene, how will paramedics know who to contact on the way to the hospital / at the hospital?

Are barbecue grills in the backyard a fire hazard? Are there actually people dumb enough to use camp grills inside? (I have heard of this, but it just seems to obviously dangerous to me)

What are the rules of stopping to help someone who's had an accident near you on the road? When should you stay as a "witness" and when is it ok to keep driving?

I have more, but those are the ones I always wonder about!"

Answer(s): Hi Marie. Thanks for the questions. Sorry for the delay in response. I had to work. I'll tackle them in order. If you are in a vehicle accident and are knocked unconscious, the paramedics don't care about anything else but you. Our entire goal at that point is to get you to a hospital as fast as we can. We have what we call "the golden hour" which means for trauma patients we would like to get you to the operating room (assuming that it's needed) within one hour of the trauma happening. We want to stabilize you and transport you. That being said, there is usually a police officer there trying to find a wallet. They are the ones that notify family members. Once at the ER the staff will contact someone but you have to tell them who to contact. Doesn't work so well if you are unconscious. Again, they will look for a wallet or cell phone.

Now if we respond to your home and you're unconscious because of a medical condition we get information from the person that called 911. Something that is useful to us in this case is the ability to get some information about you such as any medical conditions you might have, what medications you're taking and allergies to medications. I know in my county we have a program called the Vial of Life.
You fill out some paperwork with all kinds of useful information and put it in a container in your refrigerator. Then post the sticker on your refrigerator that lets us know to look for the information. Believe it or not we look in refrigerators already to look for medications (such as insulin).

Now for the BBQ's. They are a small hazard but not one to lose sleep over. Just make sure that they are attended while lit and that there is brush clearance around it. It's pretty common sense. Most people don't want brush getting near their food anyways. Cooking fires in a fire pit are more of a hazard since the flame and sparks are not contained. As for BBQing indoors...don't. I have an embarrassing story. When I was 19 I was living in Miami and my roommate and I planned on a BBQ. We had a little hibachi grill and a small backyard next to a lake. When it came time for dinner it started raining. Undaunted, we decided to move the operation indoors. We opened every window, put on ceiling and floor fans and had the sliding glass door open. We also took down every smoke alarm in the apartment. We thought that we had everything covered.
Just before the steaks were done an alarm went off. Upon investigation we discovered a carbon monoxide detector that was hard wired into the unit. The only way we could get it to shut off was to kill the power. So we had a good steak dinner in the dark. We couldn't turn the power on until the next morning. If I had only known then the dangers of carbon monoxide. Last winter I ran a call to a house where the residents had used a generator in the garage for heat due to a power outage. By the time that we got there the father was unconscious, the son was out of it and couldn't stand up and the dog was throwing up and whimpering. Lucky for them we got there when we did. We sent the people to the hospital where they made a full recovery and let the neighbors take care of the dog. We then ventilated the house. Don't BBQ inside.

As far as accidents are concerned, I am not aware of any state that requires someone to stop and help. I can only speak knowledgeably about California law. You are only required to stop if your presence there would stop someone from calling 911 (I'm paraphrasing here). So if I'm in a fire department vehicle and come across an accident I have to stop. but if I'm in my own vehicle I do not have to stop. If you stop and render care, you're covered by the Good Samaritan Act which states that you're not liable for helping out unless you are grossly negligent. Once you render aid you are required to stay there until help arrives. I don't know of any laws that require you to stop and be a witness to an accident. That would be a question better fielded by a police officer. Hope I answered you questions thoroughly enough.

Question: "This is going to sound stupid, but where do you get an extinguisher refilled or serviced? At a local fire station or the place we bought the extinguisher?

:) Thanks :)

Midwest MJ"

Answer(s): Actually Midwest MJ, it doesn't sound stupid at all. There are companies that will come out to your home or business and service them for you. One way to find them is Google (here's a link to a Google map. Just drag it over your community to search for local companies). Another way, next time you are in a store (of any type) find a fire extinguisher and check which company services it.
There should be contact information on it either in the form of a sticker or a tag. I hope this was helpful. If you still can't find someone to do it let me know which city you are in and I'll get the information.


marie said...

Thanks for answering my questions! I really appreciate you taking the time to answer them for me!

Fire Extinguisher said...

Great info, you made some truly interesting points. I appreciate your wonderful effort.

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