Chief Don Abbott is the “father” of MAYDAY facts in North America. His Firefighter based research has provided all of us with the reality of what causes maydays and what happens when maydays are transmitted-so we can best train & prepare.
Specifically and most recently, he has taken a close look during the last several months, during the COVID-19 Pandemic as well as during social issues, protests and related civil emergencies.
THIS VERY RECENT INFORMATION IS VERY CONCERNING
According to Don and his crew, there has been a 35% increase in MAYDAYS reported to them by career departments over the last 13 weeks. They have conducted 156 MAYDAY victim interviews during the last 3 weeks.
Don has concluded these major reasons for the increase in MAYDAYS:
1) Lack of control over excessive overtime, relaxing the rules because of current civil, COVID or related situations and conditions. They had one incident 19 days ago, where a Firefighter had a MAYDAY during his 71st straight hour of being on duty.
2) They have had several MAYDAYS (39%) where crews were working short handed.
1) There has been a 35% increase in MAYDAYS during the last 13 weeks
2) 81% occur between 2100 hrs and 0600 hrs
3) 77% occurred during overtime shift, 43% were working a 24 hour + hr shift
4) Average runs prior to MAYDAY (24hr period) 16 runs/or standby on protest rallies
(low 9 runs / high 26 in 24 hours)
5) 37% of the MAYDAY victims reported working short a crew member
6) 15% reported they didn’t remember the dispatch information (address, reason for
7) 37% reported using more air than normal
8) THE NUMBER ONE cause of their MAYDAY was becoming lost or seperated from hose line
9) 43% reported difficulty sleeping during their overtime shift
10) Overtime ranged from working (36%) 48hrs/ (23%) 60hrs/ (17%) 72hrs straight.
CRITICAL MESSAGE: Fire Chiefs, Commissioners & Labor Leaders:
This is a significant WARNING related to the continued issue of staffing, personnel overtime/working hours and staffing assignments. While each community challenge is different, the fact is that Firefighters require adequate rest (on AND off duty) and adequate staffing must be planned for (on the first alarm) based upon the tasks required. Be it MANDATED or voluntary, members must be physically, mentally and emotionally able to perform all aspects of the job and it’s up to the organization-as well as the individual-to assure preparedness based upon reality, standards and policy.
MAYDAY REALITY CHECK Article With Don Abbott:
IAFC SLEEP DEPRIVATION DOCUMENT & TRAINING PROGRAM w/VIDEO:
FIREFIGHTER SLEEP DISORDERS PODCAST With Dr Sara Jahnke, IAFC SHS
IAFF Health Effects of Sleep Deprivation – Dr. Stefanos Kales, Harvard University (Video)
DON ABBOTT’S PROJECT MAYDAY WEBSITE:
UNITED STATES FIRE ADMINISTRATION RESOURCES:
MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY FIREFIGHTER SLEEP STUDY:
ADDICTED TO AWAKE-FIRE ENGINEERING:
A Sleep Epidemic Video – Brigham and Women’s Hospital