Chief Ralph Webster of the Woodstock, IL Fire/Rescue District was speeding down a road nearly buried in sand along Fire Island, New York right after Hurricane Sandy, with near zero visibility due to rain and pitch black conditions. He had a vague idea of where he was going, and no idea who he was going to meet when he arrived.
It was Ralph's first time on Long Island, but certainly not his first time helping a community other than his own after a tragedy. He had assisted in the Gulf States after Katrina, and is trained in Operations, so his skills were much in need after Sandy struck New York.
Chief Webster drove from his hometown of Woodstock, IL after Sandy hit to Suffolk County, NY, where he thought he'd be reporting to the town of Islip. He didn't get there. They needed his help in other ways. “Sandy was a Type 1 hazard situation,” Ralph explained, meaning that things were a lot more challenging than he thought. FEMA had sent supplies, like generators, but as they were distributed in the chaos right after the storm, there were questions as to where all of the equipment ended up. To help get a handle on where resources had been deployed and to help distribute additional supplies and equipment, Ralph and others from the Illinois Incident Management Team (IL-IMT), under the direction of Tom Lovejoy, were instead needed at the Suffolk County Emergency Operation Center (EOC). Their combined training and years of experience in incident management allowed them to quickly find the right people to help get things done.
Shortly after they began their assignment, Chief Webster was sent to Fire Island, a remote barrier island hit hard by the storm. After successfully navigating his way through 40 mph winds, over roads completely covered with sand, and across an ice-covered bridge closed to the public where his truck slid dangerously back and forth, he saw a makeshift plywood sign with “Entrance” marked on it. This was his destination. And it had been dug out of 3 feet of sand that covered Fire Island. Upon entering the command post, local firefighters thought he had been sent on that long, dark, windy, and wet drive because he was from Woodstock, New York and knew the area. They were surprised to learn that the Woodstock on his jacket was in Illinois, not New York.
After his trip to Fire Island, Ralph and the team met with local first responders, and were able to locate and distribute generators and other resources for sheltering, as well as, help to get much needed food and water distributed. By enlisting the help of mechanics, “borrowing” gasoline, and networking with everyone they met, they were able to help organize relief efforts and get everything under better control. The IL-IMT also took the time to teach locals how to fend for themselves, which raised their spirits after such a devastating storm. They made connections with dozens of people over the next two weeks while this team of eight from throughout Illinois stayed in New York. Chief Ralph Webster’s uncanny ability to network with people he’d just met and work effectively with local teams helped a lot of people in the moments that really mattered.
Chief Ralph Webster
Terrence Brown is a Social Media Specialist working with Motorola Solutions, Inc.
Please give to the Hurricane Sandy Relief Foundation at www.SandyRelief.org. Your donations today will help those still in need.
Every New Year's Day we resolve to lose weight, exercise more, and eat healthier food. By time the bowl game season ends a week later, we’re probably a few pounds heavier from sitting on the sofa watching football and eating junk food.
Here’s how to make a public safety-related New Year’s resolution your city will be able to keep throughout the year. Think about the resolutions you make and then break each January. I bet you’ll find the word “weight” near the top of the list. If you change “weight” reduction to “wait” reduction, the citizens, first responders, and command center staff in your city will thank you for resolving to make their lives safer in 2013 and in the years to follow.
Put Your First Responders on an Information Diet
Your first responders get second and third helpings of information every day. They have to pick through voice, data, and video feeds to digest everything they see on their plates. This information bloat can slow down decision making, making it difficult to determine the fastest and best way to respond.
You can speed up response times by putting them on an information diet. If you reduce the portion size of the information your first responders receive, you’ll improve their situational awareness. Motorola’s next generation command center technology will help you send the right information to the right person at the right time. We can’t stop your officers and firefighters from eating doughnuts and twinkies, but we can skinny down their information feed so they only have to digest data that’s relevant to their job. This technology will mean faster and safer responses, reducing your citizens’ wait time after they call 9-1-1.
Exercise Good Judgment by Turning Information into Intelligence
Your command center personnel won’t get an aerobic workout while they’re on the job. But they’re probably exerting too much energy swiveling their chairs to monitor voice traffic, check data, and watch surveillance video. Motorola’s integrated command center technology will unify your voice, data, and video information into a single real-time operational view. You’ll be able to capture, correlate, and share information from citizen text messages, 9-1-1 calls, radio traffic, video feeds, and gunshot detectors. We can help you turn this information into usable and actionable intelligence, making your first responders safer, smarter, and faster.
Resolve to Work with a Wait Reduction Coach
Our Motorola Solutions experts can help you reduce response and wait times in your city. We can show you how to manage the complexity in your command center, and coach you on how to improve the sharing of information between your first responders and citizens. We’ll weigh in with suggestions for improving operational efficiency, and show you how to cut the fat from your information workflow.
So this New Year’s, put “wait reduction” at the top of your city’s list of resolutions. It won’t stop you from feeling guilty when you’re on the sofa watching football and eating junk food, but you’ll feel great when you see Motorola’s integrated command center technology make your first responders and citizens safer.
Now can anybody tell me where I can buy a few cases of Twinkies?
Rick Pollak is a Business Development Manager for Motorola Solutions, Inc.
The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation hosts a special weekend each year to remember those who have died in the line of duty. Families, friends, and colleagues gather in Emmitsburg, Maryland to honor their loved ones at the NFFF Memorial Weekend.
“The fire service is like a family,” says Chief John McGrath, incident commander for the NFFF Memorial Weekend. “You walk in any firehouse and identify yourself as a firefighter, you’re an immediate brother or sister. Firefighters know we work in a dangerous business. …And they know if you call me brother or sister, you’re going to take care of my loved ones when I can’t. This organization tries to do that.”
At the 2012 Memorial weekend, hundreds gathered to remember and honor the fallen. See their stories unfold here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXjZQZQwPR0
As part of our commitment to helping the men and women of the fire service, the Motorola Solutions Foundation honored the nation’s firefighters and their families by granting $1 million to the NFFF. The donation goes to support the Motorola Solutions Foundation Memorial Scholarship Fund and the Everyone Goes Home® Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives.
“The Motorola Solutions Foundation has been a steadfast supporter of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation over the years, and we are grateful for their commitment to our mission to honor the fallen heroes and their families,” said Chief Ronald J. Siarnicki, executive director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. “This generous grant enables the survivors of the fallen to further their educational goals and fulfill dreams that they may otherwise have to postpone. It also assists the Foundation in our efforts to reduce line-of-duty deaths and injuries through the Everyone Goes Home® Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives.”
This funding is the next evolution of the long-standing support and commitment by Motorola Solutions Foundation to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the American fire service. For more than 70 years, Motorola has been a proud supplier and supporter of the American fire service, providing mission critical communications for our nation's first responders. On behalf of Motorola Solutions employees, we salute our nation's fire service and pay tribute to the fallen firefighters who have given the ultimate sacrifice in serving their communities. Motorola Solutions Foundation is privileged to team with the NFFF to not only assist the survivors of our fallen fire service heroes, but make sure firefighters have the education necessary to stay safe and effective in their jobs.
The Motorola Solutions Foundation Memorial Scholarship Fund provides scholarships to children, stepchildren, adopted children, spouses and life partners of firefighters who died in the line of duty. The scholarships focus on science, technology, engineering and math and are awarded annually for full- or part-time study at accredited colleges, universities or vocational institutions. In 2012, 82 scholarships were awarded to family members in 28 states. Since 1997, more than $1.9 million in scholarships has been distributed.
The Everyone Goes Home® Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives program is designed to change the culture of accepting the loss of firefighters as a normal occurrence. This is achieved through education and training of fire service personnel and leadership. The program was developed following the 2004 Firefighter Life Safety Summit and was piloted recently at FDIC and the Fire Department Safety Officers, Safety Forum in Orlando Florida.
Matthew Blakely is Director of the Motorola Solutions Foundation. Learn more at www.motorolasolutions.com/giving.
As Muskingum County Sheriff Matthew Lutz and his deputies responded to a call from a local farm, they knew from previous calls that several dozen exotic animals, like lions, wolves and tigers, lived in cages on the property in Zanesville, Ohio. But nothing prepared them for what took place on that rainy October night.
At 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 18, 2011, Sheriff Matthew Lutz and Muskingum County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call unlike any they had answered previously in their collective careers. The decisions made that evening would bring both praise and criticism and would thrust this department of 80 officers into the worldwide media spotlight.
Sheriff Matthew J. Lutz of the Muskingum County, Ohio, Sheriff’s Office.
When Sheriff Lutz and his deputies arrived on the scene, the situation was far worse than they had anticipated, and they found several lions, bears, wolves and tigers roaming outside the property line. After gaining access to the farm, the officers made their way up to where they knew the animal cages were kept and came upon a grisly scene. The animal cages were all open and the resident, Terry Thompson, was lying in the driveway with what was determined later to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Dozens of animals were running around and out of control. Should the deputies attempt to corral the animals, the existing livestock fence would not be able to contain the sheer numbers that were loose. As rain continued to fall and darkness approached, Sheriff Lutz’s objective was to prevent any more animals from escaping the perimeter of the farm and preserving the safety of the county’s residents. He made the one of the toughest decisions of his career and ordered his deputies to shoot to kill the animals.
Sheriff Lutz and his deputies worked through the night and the next day to secure the area. In the end, 49 of the 56 animals had to be destroyed. Dozens of local agencies were brought in under Sheriff Lutz’s leadership to help combat the horrific situation, including municipal agencies, wildlife specialists, state government officials as well as the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s Director Emeritus, Jack Hanna. Commenting on Thompson’s decision to release the animals, Sheriff Lutz stated, “There was no reason for those animals to have to be killed or my deputies put in the positions they were put in. But that was his decision, and I had to do what was done to protect my people and this community.”
Muskingum County Prosecutor D. Michael Haddox knew Sheriff Lutz’s father, Lieutenant Mike Lutz, also with the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office, who was shot and killed in the line of duty in 1994. He said Sheriff Lutz’s ability to quickly assess and take charge of the situation is driven in part by growing up in a law enforcement family: “Sheriff Lutz’s parents instilled in him a great set of morals.”
Sheriff Lutz was nominated for the NLEOMF “Officer of the Month” award by the Board of Muskingum County Commissioners with letters in support of this nomination from the Muskingum County Emergency Management Agency and the Chief of Police of Reynoldsburg, Ohio. He is a 22-year law enforcement veteran, a member of the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association and the Fraternal Order of Police.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund honored Sheriff Lutz earlier this year, naming him the Officer of the Month for January 2012. Located in the nation’s capital, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America’s law enforcement officers. Motorola Solutions is a Founding Partner of the Memorial and the National Law Enforcement Museum. The Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month Program recognizes federal, state and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty. Learn more at www.nleomf.org.
During icy conditions and howling winds on Feb. 23, 2012, North Metro Fire Rescue Crew 63 of Broomfield/Northglenn, Colo., confronted all the elements of a perfect storm: a deranged husband, his battered wife, barricaded doors, an intentional fire and two young children trapped on the second floor of their home.
It was an unforgiving February dawn when a call went out to 9-1-1. An anguished woman tells the dispatcher, “He’s killing my children! Get my children out!”
Police officers are called to a Northglenn, Colo., duplex and find a panic-stricken woman outside, bruised and bloodied by her estranged husband who has barricaded himself and her children inside their home. Furniture blocks the doors as he torches the stairs leading to the upstairs. Police officers batter down a door, but a swirling wall of smoke pushes them back. As firefighters arrive on the scene, two officers force their way in, clearing a path for Rescue Crew 63 to begin saving lives.
Inside the house, the air is heavily charged and a stairway is engulfed in flames. Accelerants soak the carpet and a large outdoor gas grill is turned on at the bottom of the stairs. Heavy smoke blankets the first floor but Rescue Crew 63 presses on, even though the armed husband is somewhere inside.
Without a moment’s hesitation and with the pleas of the mother foremost on their minds, Rescue Crew 63 uses their charged hoses to push past the fire and smoke to gain access to the second floor where the young children are trapped. Outside, Engineer/Firefighter Josh Deuto attends to the hoses and aids the panicked and injured mother. Inside the smoke-filled duplex, Lieutenant John Maes directs his crew. Firefighters Josh Hamilton and Mark Maxwell locate the unconscious husband, who is sprawled in a bedroom, lighter in hand and weapon nearby, and they pull him to safety.
Firefighter John Brereton reaches another bedroom and pulls an unconscious 18-month-old child from the heavy smoke and heat. He carries him outside to Battalion Chief Timothy Hanlon, serving as the Incident Commander, who immediately begins CPR, clearing the boy’s airway and restoring shallow breathing before the paramedics take over.
Feeling his way around the walls of the third bedroom curtained in smoke, Lieutenant Maes discovers an unconscious 5-year-old child who has suffered significant burns over 60 percent of her body. The crew feverishly tends to her as she is sped to the hospital. Exhausted but undaunted, Maes and Brereton rush back in and rescue the family’s large, unconscious dog.
Within minutes that morning, North Metro Fire Rescue Crew 63 pulled three people from a burning home, treated and transported six people to local hospitals – including two police officers who suffered smoke inhalation, and took the family’s dog to an emergency veterinarian center. Due to the crew’s extraordinary bravery, training and best practices in the face of impending danger, the two children are alive today and have a chance at life.
For their actions that day, Battalion Chief Timothy Hanlon, Lieutenant John Maes, Firefighters Josh Hamilton, Josh Deuto, John Brereton and Mark Maxwell of the North Metro Fire Rescue District are the heroic recipients of the 2012 International Benjamin Franklin Fire Service Award for Valor, co-sponsored by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and Motorola Solutions, Inc.
The Franklin Award for Valor recognizes firefighters around the world for their expert training, leadership, heroic actions and safe practices and is the highest honor bestowed by the IAFC.
Commending the valiant efforts of his firefighters and winners of this year’s Benjamin Franklin Award for Valor, Chief Joseph Bruce said, “Our crews see it all – the good, the bad and the unfortunate. It is nothing but an honor to have personnel who display true courage and professionalism when times get tough.”
Kelly Kirwan of Motorola Solutions (left) and Chief Al Gillespie, president of the IAFC, present the plaque to North Metro Fire Rescue Chief Joseph Bruce at this year’s FRI conference.
The team that won the Ben Franklin Award this year at FRI included North Metro Fire Rescue Chief Joseph Bruce, Battalion Chief Tim Hanlon, Lt. John Maes, firefighter/engineer Josh Dueto, firefighter josh Hamilton, firefighter John Brereton and firefighter Mark Maxwell.
The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) is the voice of fire and emergency service leaders around the world. Established in 1873, the IAFC is a powerful network of more than 12,000 chief fire and emergency service officers who are the world’s leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials, natural disasters, search and rescue, and fire prevention and education. For more information about the IAFC, go to www.iafc.org. To learn more about the International Benjamin Franklin Fire Service Award for Valor, go to www.iafc.org/awards.
The Motorola Solutions Foundation granted $250,000 to the International Assocation of Fire Chiefs this year in support of the IAFC’s New Fire Chief Executive Institute. This program will provide executive development and leadership training for the next generation of fire chiefs, where seasoned and experienced fire chiefs will share their knowledge on best practices, skills, and challenges in handling crises with up-and-coming leaders.
“We are very grateful for the ongoing support of the Motorola Solutions Foundation and its dedication to our New Fire Chief Executive Institute,” said Chief Al Gillespie, president and chairman of the board, International Association of Fire Chiefs. “With the help of this grant, the institute will provide executive development based on real-world experience for new and aspiring chiefs to enhance their leadership abilities and reduce potential crises within their departments. It also will be used to develop programs and tools to disseminate leadership training throughout the fire service.”
With the average tenure of a fire chief standing at three to five years, this program aims to improve stability within organizations to enhance safety in our communities. New fire chiefs will have the opportunity to learn from fire service and private industry experts through in-depth training sessions. This program allows participants to pursue networking opportunities, continue their professional growth and, in turn, give back to the program by sharing skills they have learned to promote fire service leadership.
Motorola Solutions and the Motorola Solutions Foundation have been longtime partners with the IAFC. The IAFC represents the world’s leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials spills, natural disasters, search and rescue and public safety worldwide.
The new executive institute will help the IAFC continue to provide global leadership to current and future career and volunteer fire chiefs, EMS chiefs, company officers and managers of emergency services.
Motorola Solutions and the Motorola Solutions Foundation are dedicated to helping people be their best in the moments that matter, and by supporting programs like this one, we are proud to help make a positive impact. For 84 years, Motorola has worked side by side with public safety institutes to develop the solutions that support its mission. Since 2007, the foundation has provided more than $25 million in grants to support public safety programs and organizations in the U.S. and Canada.
Matt Blakely is the Director of the Motorola Solutions Foundation. Learn more at www.motorolasolutions.com/giving.