While the media can provide about as much news as we will need related to yesterdays incredible plane landing in New York’s Hudson River, there is an aspect that is of great interest to us as Firefighters and Fire Officers.
There can be several comparisons between what we do and what airline pilots do, and then there are also few. Specifically, though, like us, airline pilots work hard to remain focused on "managing" risk when possible …and when realistic. Now, I know there are some who blow that off and just feel that most of our injuries and deaths are just "part of the job". While some are-and sometimes we must get hurt or even lose our lives in the performance of our duties, most are not-a proven fact-no need to argue. And while what we do is respond to fires and related emergencies that have happened for a variety of reasons, pilots clearly do not do that. We go to known reported bad stuff-they try to avoid bad stuff. But, because pilots are operating multi-ton vehicles that fight gravity the whole time, and because pilots are responsible for their own and those with them (crew and passengers) lives, there is pretty good reason for some serious "risk management" in their business as well. Analyzing exposure to risk (before, during and after a run for us, a flight for them) and determining how to best handle that exposure is what we both do. Predictable/preventable stuff.
When you look at the airline industry and firefighter safety, health and survival, you don’t have to look very far to see how we have learned from them. Probably the best recent example is the National FF Near Miss Reporting System www.firefighternearmiss.com . When that program was put together, led by retired FDNY Firefighter and well known author, Dennis Smith, some of the key players helping the fire service develop it are also some of the best known airline industry safety experts. Prominent airline safety experts such as Dr. Robert Helmreich: University of Texas-Austin, NASA’s Linda Connell: Director of the Aviation Safety Reporting System (http://asrs.arc.nasa.gov/), Chris Hart: Ass’t Administrator of FAA Safety & Tom Phillips of the Air Line Pilots Assoc…all provide their expertise to the fire service.
Yesterday, US Airways Pilot Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger was the man who landed that plane on the river in New York. But what you may not know about him is that his "side job" is a consultant in risk management focused on the risks he-and all pilots, co-pilots and flight attendants have daily-on each "run" they go on. Preventing bad stuff from happening when at all possible. A similar job that Firefighters, Fire Officers and Chief Fire Officers have at varied levels but deal with daily.
Interestingly, Captain Sullenberger was a USAF fighter pilot, has served as an instructor and Air Line Pilots Association safety chairman, accident investigator and national technical committee member. He has participated in several USAF and NTSB accident investigations. His safety work has led to the development of FAA policies. He coauthored a paper on error inducing contexts in aviation. He is "ate up" with risk management-and it paid off for many-including those on the ground who could have been where that plane might have ended up.
Very interestingly, and this will sound familiar, Captain Sullenberger was a leader in the development and implementation of the Crew Resource Management (CRM) course used by the airlines…and now used by many in the fire service as presented in the last several years. Here ya go:
Captain "Sully" Sullenberger is and has been focused on what might go wrong and what policies, training and leadership can be applied to minimize the risk. He is focused on minimizing the unnecessary "bad stuff" that could happen to him, his crew and those he is responsible to and for.
Sounds just like a good Fire Officer.
CHICAGO FIREFIGHTERS INJURED IN FLASHOVER:
An elderly woman was killed and three firefighters were seriously hurt after a Thursday night house fire in Chicago. CFD Firefighters rescued the woman after finding her unconscious in the kitchen of her home and took her to the hospital with smoke inhalation, 3 Firefighters were also injured and were in serious condition. Preliminary reports indicate the firefighters were injured in a “flashover.” All the firefighters remained in “stable” condition this morning.
Take Care-BE CAREFUL.
The Secret List 1-16-09 / 0935 hours