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According to NFPA's recently released U.S. Firefighter Fatalities report, a total of 68 firefighters died while on duty in the United States in 2015, representing the fourth time in the past five years that the total number of deaths has been below 70. The number of volunteer firefighter deaths was the second lowest total every reported (32 deaths).

 

The largest share of firefighter deaths occurred while firefighters were operating at fires (24 deaths), accounting for just over one-third of the on-duty deaths last year. This is the fourth time in the last six years that the total has been fewer than 25 deaths.

 

Overexertion, stress and medical issues accounted for by far the largest share of firefighter deaths. Of the 40 deaths in this category, 35 were classified as sudden cardiac deaths, usually heart attacks, with onset while the victim was on duty. This reflects only one less death than the 2014 total, reinforcing last year's findings, which showed that the general downward trend in on-duty sudden cardiac deaths since 2007 has stopped. Cardiac-related events accounted for 51 percent of the deaths in 2015, and 42 percent of the deaths over the past 10 years.

 

For an in-depth overview of the report's findings, read the NFPA Journal article, "Firefighter Fatalities in the United States, 2015".

shutterstock_6300025 (002).jpgA broad swath of relevant organizations, including NFPA, have developed a new set of recommended minimum training guidelines for 9-1-1 call-takers and dispatchers, as part of a three-year collaborative effort facilitated by the National 9-1-1 Program.

 

Eighteen different organizations, referred to as the Working Group, contributed to the project. These involved agencies include the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International (APCO), the Denise Amber Lee Foundation, International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED), National Association of State 9-1-1 Administrators (NASNA), National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and PowerPhone. Additionally, numerous individuals who contributed during the public review period. The Working Group and the National 9-1-1 Program felt it was imperative to include the 9-1-1 community in vetting the new guidelines.

 

The recommended training topics are intended to provide nationally recognized, universally accepted guidelines that cover core competencies for the nation's 9-1-1 telecommunicators, establish the foundation for ongoing professional development, and provide the framework for state legislation that establishes the requirements for such training and a funding mechanism. The idea is to enable 9-1-1 Centers and emergency service providers to establish training programs and build upon training programs already in existence, and to assess the effectiveness of outside training programs. Topics covered by the training include telecommunicator roles and responsibilities, 9-1-1 call processing, emergency management and interpersonal communications.

 

The recommended training topics are intended to cover only the lowest level of competency required for 9-1-1 telecommunicators. It is important that telecommunicators receive supplemental, discipline-specific training. It is up to each 9-1-1 authority having jurisdiction to decide how best the implement the guidelines, as they are not a federal mandate.

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