When declaring an Emergency, you call the word May Day THREE TIMES!! Why Three Times? Because the first two may not be heard for many reasons. Other noise, scanning feature, bad transmission and so on… Calling the May Day is just the START of confirming Command and other Firefighters operating on the Fire Ground truly understand that there is a Firefighter in trouble and needs immediate assistance. Historically, Firefighters that have been in trouble were heard and understood by Firefighters not operating on the fire ground who were listening to radio transmissions. This is another REASON why firefighters not assigned to the incident should monitor radio traffic. Be Pro-Active and Listen, even when your company is not assigned to the BOX! What If you hear something that no one else hears? What if? when you call the May Day, your portable microphone is not transmitting and the words May Day are not being heard, or there are numerous May Days all at once. Then who is tracking all the May Days? There were 9 Firefighters trapped in June of 2007 in Charleston and only one May Day came across/was recorded over the air. There was one Orange button that was activated by Ladder 5. Ladder 5 Driver activated his orange button. The Dispatcher came across and advised Ladder 5 drivers orange button is off. What if? 8 other Firefighters would have activated their orange button early enough? We must STUDY and learn from others before us and try to improve for the FUTURE. Everybody knows how and when to call a May Day, but still so many times the words are not being heard. We continue to train on calling the May Day, but need to also FOCUS on the Orange Button and how much it has to offer. When the ORANGE button is activated an EMERGENCY has been declared until otherwise canceled. With the activation of ORANGE button, it also signals what radio it is. This is only as good as you are at confirming that you’re wearing/using the radio for your assigned seat. Remember Captain 8A in Houston on North Loop, they knew he was in need of assistance and who he was, based on radio identifier. The ORANGE button will work, when the mic will not. The orange button will tell Command, the dispatcher, and other firefighters who is in trouble without ever hearing your voice. So remember how important the ORANGE button truly is and wearing the assigned radio. Do you or your Chiefs have a list of assigned radio numbers and what radio is assigned to what seat? Do the Officers know their crews radio numbers when displayed on the screen? It shouldn’t be Morse Code.
Last thought, can you and your firefighters activate the ORANGE button with GLOVES on? Have you trained on it? Who and how do you reset it? What Channel will the ORANGE button work on? Is Your ORANGE button covered by Radio Strap? Remember the Devil is in the Details? Confirm your Orange button is not blocked by strap and practice using the antenna as a guide for gloved hand and locating ORANGE button.
Improper Placement of Strap.