We tend to focus on our failures. When things go wrong in high threat professions, injuries occur and lives are lost, leading us to pick these incidents apart for lessons learned.  But what about our successes? We need to suck the marrow out of incidents that go RIGHT as much as we do those that go wrong.  There is just as much to learn.

Arriving on scene as the first due engine, smoke was showing from the 9th floor of a high rise apartment building. Boarding the elevator with our equipment, a maintenance worker reported a handicapped person trapped in the fire apartment.  With no other units on scene yet, we split crews, sending one immediately to search while the other’s stretched the line from the standpipe a floor below. All in a dry, non-sprinklered building.  

While the stretch was made, the search firefighter located the apartment, closing the open apartment door to the public hallway as he entered.  He searched the fire room as best he could, also closing that open door, and then located the handicapped occupant in an adjoining bedroom. As the line was entering the apartment having been stretched up the stairs from the floor below and down the hall, the officer encountered the search firefighter dragging the occupant to safety. The fire was held to the bedroom of origin.

A lot went right at this fire, but there are two big takeaways worth considering:  First, every member of the team was well trained and executed to perfection. Lines were stretched, standpipe systems supplied, key doors closed, rooms searched, and rescues made. Nothing epic, but solid execution of the basics. Second and perhaps most important, was the mutual trust displayed at this incident. The officer, knowing he had trained his people sufficiently so that he could split his small team for a high risk, high reward search. The search firefighter, knowing his crew would be right behind him with the line while the driver got them water without fail.

Study when things go right.  It might help them go right again.

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