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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Collaboration in the Cloquet Area

A collaboration between communities resulted in a fire district.
The roundtable discussion session at the League’s 2014 Annual Conference was titled “Public Safety Collaboration Models.” That afternoon it quickly became apparent that the attendees from around the state had done their homework as they discussed the complexities and the politics of merging, contracting, or collaborating with another municipality to provided EMS, fire, or police services.

They also knew that for many cities, the collaboration discussion was more about being able to provide quality and responsive emergency service than it was about saving money. The recruitment and retention issues for EMS and fire departments are real—as is maintaining safe staffing levels and dealing with officer turnover for the police departments.

One of the successful collaborations they discussed was the Cloquet Area Fire District. The fire district is the result of cities of Cloquet, Scanlon, and Peach Lake Township coming together to jointly provide fire and EMS service. The district has been operating since January 1, 2009 and received a 2013 Bush Foundation’s “Prize for Community Innovation.”

The fire district's headquarters are in Scanlon.
I spent a few hours this spring with Kevin Schroeder, the fire chief for the Cloquet Area Fire District. He walked me through their process for the collaboration and through the numerous issues they resolved. He said that the collaboration was not immediately more cost effective—as resources had to be realigned to serve the entire district—but they were able to provide an increased level of service both in response and prevention. The district has also been operating long enough that they are now realizing the cost savings.  

When our roundtable discussion concluded, I told the group that when I left Chief Schroeder’s office that day in April, I realized he had never used the pronoun “I.”

Here is link to a four-minute video on the District, as well as the District’s website:

http://www.bushfoundation.org/grantees/cloquet-area-fire-district

http://cloquetareafiredistrict.com/

Remember:

                                       Responder Safety = Public Safety



Up next…The 2014 LMC Law Summaries—What Impacts Public Safety

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.



Rob   

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

100% - What’s On Your Sign?

The Mortenson sign.
What are YOUR 100% rules when it comes to safety?
I was intrigued by the sign at the Mortenson Construction site near our office. I was aware of the effectiveness of the Mortenson “Zero Injuries” Safety Program—and of their stretch and bend warm-ups that their workers must do twice a day. But I had not seen the 100% sign before.  

Seeing the sign got me asking: “What are the 100% safety rules for our EMS, fire, and police responders?” What has to be in place on every shift, on every run, or on every call? No exceptions—these are rules, and not guidelines. These rules are so firm that a coworker will call out another coworker if they are in violation.

Last Thursday night, I showed a photo of the sign to a group of firefighters gathered in Esko for training. They thought for a moment and came up with a few fire department-specific ideas. It also promoted discussion.

Your ideas?

What would this sign look like if it was hanging in your station? We would like to hear your 100% ideas. Please forward your thoughts, and we will compile a list of the responses. Send your 100% ideas to rboe@lmc.org or (651) 281-1238.

Remember:

                                             Responder Safety = Public Safety



Up next…The Collaboration in Cloquet.

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.



Rob   

Monday, June 2, 2014

Mat Room Improvements

The mat room at the Lino Lakes Police Department
features addtional safety measures like plywood
mounted behind the mats on the walls.
Training injuries—particularly during use of force or defensive tactics training—continues to be a leading area for police officer injuries both in Minnesota and nationally. Recently, two law enforcement training sites have updated and improved the safety of the mat rooms they use for this type of training. 

The Lino Lakes Police Department had been using a multi-purpose room for their training. It was time consuming to set up the room for training, as mats needed be brought in and positioned. Officer Steve Wagner said, “It’s tough to cover all the safety issues that multi-function rooms present, like covering up sharp edges and door handles.” The Lino Lakes Police Department’s new room is permanently set up, and their public works department added plywood to the walls and bracing in the corners to make the room safe and sturdy before the mats were hung up.

A video camera is mounted out of the way and monitors
the mat training room at the Lino Lakes PD.
The room also has a video camera mounted up and out of the way. Officer Wagner said, “The camera can be useful in reviewing the performance of the trainers and trainees if needed. We haven’t had any injuries, but if there is one—we can see what happened and hopefully prevent it from happening again. It also tends to keep the training atmosphere focused and professional knowing that it is being recorded. It keeps scenario training more ‘on script’ too.”  

The SCALE (Scott County Association for Leadership and Efficiency) Regional Public Safety Training Facility in Scott County also made an improvement to their mat room. Facility Director Mike Briese noted that “space was the biggest issue,” as the padded area of the mat room was too small for some of the use of force training and so created safety issues. The old mats were no longer adequate or sized properly for the room.

The remodeled mat room at the SCALE Training Facility.
The SCALE facility improved their mat room by making the room larger and by adding new and better padding to the floor and walls. This improved the safety of the training room and allows the instructors more options as to how they can use the room. “Our agencies are now able to create properly sized groups in a station training setting which is more conducive to learning,” said Briese.

Scenario-based training is here to stay because it works. The challenge for the instructors is to figure out how to make that training safe without watering down the content. Good-quality and properly sized mats, covering all of the hazards in the training room, and mounting a video camera are good risk management.

Remember:

                                                    Responder Safety = Public Safety



Up next…The Mortenson 100% Project. What Would it Look Like for Public Safety?

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.



Rob