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Through a contact in the Baltimore County Fire Company (in Maryland), a group of Hand-in-Hand Fire Company members took a field trip on May 6, 2022 to learn about practices in another area, and they returned with some valuable upgrades and a lasting relationship.
First, the crew observed Baltimore using Bluetooth technology to pair radios to air masks, which resulted in a huge improvement in communication clarity. Normally, a person’s radio is on their chest, so when they speak, the sound is muffled and slightly delayed as it goes through the air mask and helmet. Firefighter Arlan Miller shared that when using the new Bluetooth technology, the muffled sound is removed, and it’s much easier to understand the speaker at critical times. The connection and relationship with a company like Baltimore County allowed our company to see (in person) a viable solution to a communication challenge we’ve been having for years. Hand-in-Hand is one of the first companies in the area to use this new technology.
Second, Hand-in-Hand’s officers have been looking to revise their Command Book, and this was a good opportunity to see how a larger company organizes observations and procedures during an emergency. Command Books are a tool used to track a fireground, focus on critical questions, stay organized, and keep essential information in front of you. These books are full of laminated pages of procedures and worksheets to use during an emergency. Hand-in-Hand’s crew learned some things from Baltimore’s books that they implemented in Hand-in-Hand’s books, including a reorganization to make the book easy to use even under stress. Besides the standardizing observation procedures, the Command Book is helpful during a transfer of command to be sure nothing is missed. One person might start filling out the book, then command is transferred, or other local authorities arrive. The book can seamlessly be passed to the next person.
We’re grateful for the time Baltimore County firefighters spent with our crew and look forward to continuing the relationship with them and new connections as opportunities are presented.