At NIFC, one of our primary objectives is to ensure wildland firefighter safety. That is why Chad Fisher, the Wildland Fire Safety and Prevention Program Manager for the NPS here at NIFC, approached Emily Nemore, our Fire Communications & Education SCEP, and me with an idea for a project. Chad wants to see how NPS firefighting units used the lessons learned from the 2008 Dutch Creek Incident to increase the chances for survival in cases of traumatic injury on the fireline. Therefore, Chad wants Emily and me to do some research and find out how many NPS wildland fire units are properly equipped and trained with proper emergency personnel extraction gear.
Chad, Emily, and I first sat down to discuss our vision of the project. It is very wide in scope, encompassing all seven of the NPS regions. Chad wanted to see how these regions were equipped with backboards, cervical collars, spider straps, and litters. Also he wanted to see if personnel were trained on this equipment. Chad hopes to have a full list of regional and local extraction capabilities that could be used to improve the chances of survival in medical emergencies.
I decided to observe how this equipment is used. Emily and I found out that the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) was conducting a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course the very next week in Boise. We rode out to the foothills and observed the training and talked with Michelle Moore, the Wildland Firefighter Medical Standards Program officer for the BIA.
Additionally, I read the Accident Investigation Report of the Dutch Creek Incident. It helped me contextualize the goals of this project because it effectively illustrates why proper emergency evacuation training and equipment is so important on the fireline. Without reading the report, I would not have readily understood the call for standardized training and equipment as I do now.
With first-hand observation of the use of this emergency equipment and my reading of the incident report, I feel much more confident in my ability to understand the goals of this project and to carry them out to the end.
At this point, Emily and I have created project objectives and a timeline. We have learned about the use of the emergency medical equipment, and now we are in the process of gathering contact information from NPS parks and regions. From there, our goal is to develop a questionnaire to send out to Regional Fire Management Officers (FMO) with our relevant questions. Once we receive our survey results, we expect to develop our recommendations.