Friday, June 1, 2012

Turnout time

Monday's post about the elements that comprise response time began with a discussion of call processing time.  Today's topic is turnout time: the interval from the time the assigned units are notified of the emergency until the wheels start moving.  There are a few different ways that emergency responders can be notified of a dispatch: a voice announcement over the radio, an audible alarm at a station, or an electronic message delivered to a device like a computer, phone or pager.  Most emergency response systems use a combination.  In Lincoln, we use all three.

When an fire company or an ambulance crew is assigned to a emergent call, a tone sounds on a PA system in the station, a voice dispatch to the unit is made over our radio system, and an electronic message is delivered to the mobile data computer in the vehicle.  Once the alarm has been received, the assigned units have some work to do: drop whatever they had been doing previously, proceed to the apparatus, don any protective equipment, enter the vehicle, strap in, start the unit, open the door, and roll.  Once again, all of the steps take a little bit of time, and there are many variables in play.  If you're all standing near the engine at 3:00 PM, and the dispatch is to a medical emergency that would not require bunker gear, you are rolling pretty quickly.  If it's 3:00 AM and the dispatch is to a overturned tanker car, it will likely take considerably longer to get under way.

For Lincoln Fire & Rescue, we would like our turnout time for medical emergencies to be 60 seconds or less, 90% of the time.  For response to fire, rescue, and hazmat incidents, our goal is 80 seconds or less, 90% of the time. These goals are not pulled from the air, rather they are best-practices benchmarks established by the leading authority on fire safety, the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), a non-profit that has been developing and publishing standards concerning fire safety for over a century.


Steve said...

I should have been an emergency responder. In the old days, when I stayed up until the wee hours watching TV, I liked to sleep as late in the morning as possible. I don't know if I could have made the 60-second standard 90% of the time, but I could usually be at work within ten minutes of the alarm going off. (I wasn't always awake yet, though.)

Anonymous said...

Pulling over to the right when you see an emergency vehicle with lights and sirens operating is a Law almost everyone is aware of. However drivers should use a bit of common sense. I have seen people slam on their brakes and pull over to the right curb when the emergency vehicle was just barely in sight. I have seen this result in backed up traffic making it difficult for the emergency responders to get through. I always figured it was better to continue at a legal speed and pull over to the right when it was less than ten seconds away. What do you suggest? The Law?

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