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Monday, July 13, 2015

League of Minnesota Cities Annual Conference: Police Topics

Waite Park Police Chief Dave Bentrud led a discussion
on the police response to people in mental crisis.
The Roundtable Discussions
This year’s LMC Annual Conference featured two police topics during the roundtable sessions. This forum allows city leaders from around the state to sit down and discuss current topics and issues in an informal setting.

Waite Park Police Chief Dave Bentrud led roundtable discussions on the complexities and difficulties that police officers face when responding to emergency calls to assist people in mental crisis. This is an issue for all corners of the state. Most jurisdictions are seeing a substantial increase in the number of calls—and they are handling them with limited resources.

Savage Police Chief Rodney Seurer and POST Board Chairman Tim Bildso teamed up to explain the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) certification. Most attendees were not familiar with the certification or the process required to become certified.

Brave Leadership Required: Effective Police-Community Relations
The title of this session accurately described the training from Maplewood Police Chief Paul Schnell and consultant/educator Jason Sole. They took their session’s attendees on a trip back through their very different lives (one of the presenters grew up in a non-diverse community in rural Wisconsin and went on to become a police officer and teacher. The other grew up in housing projects in Chicago and became a gang member, committed crimes, and was jailed).

At times, for some of us (including me), it was an uncomfortable trip, and I find that I am still thinking about the discussion a couple of weeks later. They talked about the biases we have, as well as the very different glasses and filters that all of us look through when we view the world. It was about developing relationships, and having difficult and hard conversations with groups in our communities—particularly those that interact with the police.

The attendees were very quiet for about 45 minutes, and then the questions starting coming so fast that Paul and Jason needed to cut their presentation short to stay on schedule. When the session ended, at least half of the class stayed in the room asking questions and continuing the discussion.

2015 League of Minnesota Cities Leadership Award
LMC President Steve Nasby (L) presents Medina
Public Safety Director Ed Belland (R) with
the 2015 Leadership Award at the annual conference.

Medina’s public safety director, Ed Belland, was selected as the League of Minnesota Cities Leadership Award winner for 2015. Director Belland was honored for his work that has “provided the City of Medina with the backbone for the relationships necessary to establish a regional approach to public safety services” that has saved area taxpayers money and provided quicker, coordinated responses to emergency situations.

Congratulations to Ed, and a big thank you to Dave Bentrud, Rodney Seurer, Tim Bildso, Jason Sole, and Paul Schnell for contributing to the success of the conference, and for your commitment to Minnesota law enforcement.

Up next: Helpful Links and a New “Did You Know?” Video

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

NASA: “Safety Depends on Culture”

“A positive safety culture begins with assuring dialog is open and decision-making is transparent.”

Those are the words of David Loyd as he addressed the recent Public Risk Management Association (PRIMA) conference. Mr. Loyd is from the Johnson Space Center Safety and Test Operations, and his presentation was entitled “NASA’s Lessons from Loss: Managing Risk for Bold New Missions and Building on a Unique Safety Culture.” Loyd estimated that 75% of NASA’s mishaps were the result of human error.

He went on to say: “As much as we would like to error-proof our work environment, even the most automated and complex technical endeavors require human interaction and are vulnerable to human frailty.” He talked about the need to cultivate a strong safety culture that diminishes risk.”

“Lessons from Loss” was a haunting title, and Loyd spoke with great candor as he reviewed incidents that took the lives of astronauts and ground personnel, as well injured employees and destroyed incredibly expensive equipment. Even the events that appeared to be mechanical failures were the result of human error. He reviewed these incidents using NASA’s Safety Culture Model. That model has five sub-components:

Reporting Culture – We report our concerns.
Just Culture – We have a sense of fairness.
Flexible Culture – We change to meet new demands.
Learning Culture – We learn from our successes and mistakes.
Engaged Culture – Everyone does his or her part.

This model is followed both proactively and reactively as they review their accidents and losses. How about asking those questions at your next safety committee meeting? Does your staff report their concerns, is there a sense of fairness, and can the organization change to meet new demands?  Do your employees learn from their successes and mistakes, and is everyone engaged?

It was interesting that while we continue to look to technology to improve safety, the need to develop a culture of safety was a theme for multiple presentations at the PRIMA conference.

Another one of Mr. Loyd’s comments stuck with me: “It is not possible to perpetuate a safety culture in space without taking care of each other on the ground and at home.”

Here is a link to learn more about NASA’s safety culture:


                                     Responder Safety = Public Safety

Up next: Police Topics at LMC's Annual Conference

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


Monday, June 22, 2015

The Water Mule

The Water Mule
There are legendary people in Minnesota’s public safety community, and there are also legendary machines. Nisswa Fire Department’s Engine #9915 is one such legend. The truck is a 41-year-old Peter Pirsch and Sons fire engine, and in the words of Nisswa Fire Chief Richard Geike: “That truck can pump!” They call it “the water mule.”

While all fire engines pump water, this truck excels at drafting (pulling) water out of lakes, ponds, and portable tanks. Drafting water is not like connecting to a hydrant or using the water from the truck’s tank. Drafting takes an airtight pump and hose, a strong primer, and a lot of horsepower as the fire engine needs to create a vacuum to pull the water up into the pump and then push it out through hoses.

The Nisswa Fire Department acquired the 1974 Pirsch from Spring Lake Park, but it came with a blown engine. Nisswa was able to find a mechanic who could repair the large-block, six-cylinder Waukesha gas engine that has 12 spark plugs. When there is a fire, this truck is sent to the closest lake to supply the other engines and tankers with water. None of the new diesel fire engines can match this truck’s pumping capacity.   

Chief Geike said the 1974 Darley pump is rated at 1,250 gallons per minute, but the truck can pump in excess of 1,700 gallons per minute while drafting. The department added a pre-connected 20-foot, large diameter hard-suction hose that wraps around the truck to be quickly deployed when the truck arrives at a lake. It looks a little odd, but it is very effective.

This truck out-pumps newer trucks.
During the large fire at the Breezy Point Resort a few years ago, the truck drafted from Pelican Lake and supplied water to the Brainerd ladder truck and to three additional two-and-a-half inch lines (hoses). Chief Geike said the motor ran “a little above idle.”

With parts being hard to find, Nisswa has looked at the possibility of taking the truck apart and putting it on a trailer or on another truck—but none of the mechanics or engineers will guarantee that the end result would match its current pumping capacity. It has the perfect synthesis of mechanical components, and it’s a perfect fit for the Nisswa lakes area communities. And heck, it even has a nickname.

Up next: Risk Management at NASA

In the meantime, be careful and stay safe.