The Importance of Checking the Trucks

As I drive to work every morning a little after 6am, I pass a Fire Station just off the main road. Every morning almost without fail I notice, what I can assume to be, the morning crew just getting started for the day. No matter if you call it a Rig check, truck check, equipment check or something else it is all the same thing; making sure you have the items you need to answer emergency calls for service.

I know everyone, myself included, has done countless of these rig checks and could probably recite the sheet forward and backward just from memory alone. However this poses a question, just how much are we actually checking the truck vs just going through the motions?

These checks are so absolutely important, almost more so than anything else. How many of you have just done half checks, just glanced over the truck and called it good, or skipped rig checks altogether? I'm not proud to say it, but I know I have in the past. You get to the station late, theres a game on, theres a show you want to watch, a store you have to run to, your just tired and want a nap, or the "trucks all good" from the outgoing crew, or any number of other excueses that could come to you. This mindset is downright dangerous!

Say you did all that, now you have an emergency call, maybe the truck wont start, you don't have enough fuel, or the bay door will not even open. If you do get out the door when you get to the scene and now you are missing a vital piece of equipment, or something is broken now what do you do? Not only are you potentially putting the patient in undo distress or delaying a responce that could save life or property, but you are also opening up yourself and your department to unnecessary liability, and you could also be tarnishing the name of first reaponders everywhere.

Think of it from a personal standpoint. You go camping, hunting, fishing, hiking, or even just on a vacation, do you just grab your bags and go? Probably not. If your like me, you make a list of stuff you need and as you pack it you cross it off. This way you know you have all the supplies you need for whatever it is you are doing. Rig checks are the same exact thing.

While they can be tedious, somewhat time consuming, and inconvenient to you at the time, take that time to make sure that you, your truck, and your equipment is ready to go. Being proactive is better than reactive. Once the tones go out theres no time to be second guessing if you have the equipment you need. Take the few extra minutes to do a proper rig check and have the peace of mind knowing you are starting the day as prepared as you can be. 

 About the Author 

 SEAN WALSH is an EMT with North Stelton Fire Company EMS Division in Piscataway NJ for the last 9 years. He is also a Public Safety Telecommunicator with a county based agency in NJ for the last 4 years. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness at Thomas Edison State College (NJ) in 2013.

A Moment In Time: Remembering Hinal Patel

To quote one of my all-time favorite musicals, RENT, "525,600 minutes - how do you measure, measure a year?" It is absolutely mind blowing that it has been a year since we lost Hinal. 12 months of laughs, 52 weeks of friendship, 365 days of moments, 525,600 minutes of love.

It is still all very surreal to me and I think this is how life is for most of us now. Over the last year we have all experienced highs and lows, good and bad, failures and triumphs, and countless moments that we have shared and countless moments we have kept to ourselves. One thing that is absolutely evident is that we have all missed sharing this crazy ride we call life with Hinal. Even as I sit here and write this I can think of 1,000 different things that I wish I could have shared with her or wish she was a part of this past year. 

As life goes on, we often let little things drift out of our minds. We often take things for granted and that is when we start to miss the little moments in each day. Little moments like just seeing Hinal smile, seeing how passionate she was about the work she did, how a room would light up when she walked in, or her beautiful personality. 

Not a single day has gone by where I havent thought of Hinal. Through every single moment, memory, experience and adventure I knew that Hinal was still with us. Her spirit lives on in every single person who was fortunate enough to cross paths with her. The world and our lives are definitely dimmer with her gone; however, the passion she had for life should fuel us all to grow and be the absolute best we can be. 

For every moment we experience I know that she is here watching over us and sharing in our triumphs, standing by us in our failures, and laughing with us (or at us sometimes) every step of the way. 

To answer the question of how do you measure a year, its not where you have been, not what has happened, not holidays, birthdays, parties or even in time. The answer is simple: LOVE. Do not let one single moment go by without acknowledging its importance. Do not let one single person who means anything to you go without telling them how you feel because anything can happen. The only time guaranteed is right now so make it count.

To Hinal: I am still in complete disbelief. I look at your pictures and get emotional and then I think of the good times and how I never could resist your beautiful smile. I love you, I miss you, please continue to watch over me as I know you have done for the past year.

Love you forever and always,

Sean

 Photo collage showing some memories of Hinal. Notice her beautiful smile in every one of her pictures.

 The vehicle stickers that were designed and printed for members of the North Stelton Volunteer Fire Company, where Hinal was a dedicated member, and family.

The vehicle stickers that were designed and printed for members of the North Stelton Volunteer Fire Company, where Hinal was a dedicated member, and family.

 A Thin White Line ribbon that I have pinned to my backpack, my lunch box, my work ID, and hanging in my car to always keep Hinal with me and to always keep her spirit and memory alive.

A Thin White Line ribbon that I have pinned to my backpack, my lunch box, my work ID, and hanging in my car to always keep Hinal with me and to always keep her spirit and memory alive.

The Final Shift

After many thousands of emergency and non-emergency calls for service answered and 4 and a half years on the desk (8 years total with non-public safety dispatching) I am hanging up my headset tonight. I cannot even begin to describe what I am feeling right now. I knew this would be an interesting job and experience; I could never have imagined how absolutely correct I would be. It has been a whirlwind from crazy October Snow Storms that cancel Halloween, to a tragic Plane Crash, to dealing with Super-Storm Sandy, to all the other everyday craziness; I could not have asked to spend the time with a better group of people who are the epitome of professionals.

 From birthdays to Christmas and funerals to weddings I have experienced it all from behind the desk. There have been amazing times and bad times and through it all we have grown together as a family. It is fitting that this week is National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week. Not only do I get to express my deepest gratitude to everyone for the work that we do every day but everyone in the country also gets a glimpse into our world. This job is certainly not for everyone, but those who can do it have a passion like I have never seen before. I wish that everyone was able to experience this job just to have a better understanding of what we as Dispatchers go through on a daily basis, our normal day is usually the public’s worst day. We live with that even on our days off. I will never forget what I have learned doing this job, and never forget the people that I have interacted with.

Tonight, on my last night, I am so touched by all of the outpouring of support and well wishes. From my coworkers throwing me a party with some of the most delicious food I have ever had (Thanks Guys!!) to the endless e-mails, text messages, Facebook posts/messages, phone calls, and over the radio messages. I am simply blown away and this just solidifies what I have known all along, I have the best second family anywhere.

I have met some the most dedicated, professional and wonderful people from both sides of the radio while working. I am so eternally grateful to each and every one of them for making my time so amazing. I want to thank them all for everything and I look forward to the next chapter of my life as well as all of theirs.

This is not the end for me by a long shot. I am moving over from public safety dispatching to hopefully a just as prosperous career as an Air Traffic Controller. For the next 17 weeks I will be in training classes at the FAA academy in Oklahoma City. I look forward to this amazing opportunity and know that my experiences with this career will carry over into my new career.

 With that being said, I say thank you again. I look forward to keeping in touch with everyone.

Sean Walsh

Operator 180, Signing Off