I’m sure we can all agree that our company works best when the same players are involved. There is a certain synchronicity that emerges during any given situation. The left hand knows what the right hand is doing. The first arriving officer is doing his/her thing, the pipe is leading out, the engineer is making connections. It’s well-oiled machine.
Oh sure, there are the occasional times when the machine develops a burp or two, but the problems are usually quickly ironed out and soon the team is humming along on all eight cylinders once again. When the players are the same, continuity exists.
But we are never assured of the luxury of having the same guys every shift. Duty trades and overtime fill-ins for vacations and illnesses result in a continually-changing group, constantly trying to mesh. Even with SOG’s/SOP’s in place, the chemistry is just a little different. In the fire service, this difference invariably leads to more burps. And if not pre-treated with a little pre-incident briefing, those burps could escalate into full-blown projectile vomiting.
In Mel Brooks’ High Anxiety, Nurse Diesel saw the importance of immediately informing the new head shrink, Dr. Thorndyke, of the rules that were to be followed at the Institute for the Very Very Nervous. While your approach may not be the same, the timing is all-important: make it happen immediately.
It is the responsibility of the company officer to recognize the challenges his/her company will face when a visiting member is a new part of the team. The CO needs to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Make it a point to remind the troops to focus on the little things that make it gel. Who will be grabbing what tool? Who will be on the tip? Do you do a left-hand search?
For career companies, this should be addressed before anything else. As a CO, I’ve found that a simple reminder to my regular guys to facilitate the discussion with our visiting player is all it takes. As they engage with each other on what is expected, the cohesive element of the company starts to take shape and we can anticipate that team-approach so necessary to a productive and viable company.
Volunteer officers may have the added challenge of trying to craft a well-oiled machine during the response. With sirens wailing in the background, make sure each member knows what their first few steps should be so that you “hit the ground running” upon arrival, reducing the possibility of a “clustercluck” developing.
“OK guys, it sounds like we’re the second engine in. Unless you hear otherwise, we’ll be establishing a supply line to the first-in engine. We’ll be doing a forward lay, so Joe, you make the hydrant connection…” and so on.
Operating efficiently and productively helps to insure that you and your troops will be heading home after shift. Recognizing the need to pre-plan the actions of your company is an important step to achieving the nirvana necessary to achieve your goals.
After all, if someone ain’t playing by the rules, someone ain’t getting their fruit cup…