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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Holiday Stories

The City of Watertown decorates one of
their fire engines for the holidays.
It seems we remember the calls that happen on nights with a full moon or during the holiday season with even more clarity. As we have done in the past, we want to share a few “Holiday Stories”:

  • Recently, local news sources reported about the Coon Rapids police officer who encountered a family with no money and who planned to sleep in their car on a 10-degree night. The officer was afraid the mother, father, and five small children would freeze if they slept in the car. He was not able to find a place for them in an emergency shelter. The officer got them to a local hotel and paid for the room himself. He has asked the department not to identify him by name.

  • I was at the City of Savage’s main fire station a few days before Thanksgiving. Just as the training session was getting started, there was a knock at the door. It was a woman from the neighborhood who was bringing fresh-baked pies to the firefighters to thank them for their service to the community. She seemed embarrassed that the firefighters were thanking her. 

  • I worked for a police chief who had obtained a confession from a bank robber earlier in his career. As with most interviews, the two got to know each other a little bit during their conversation. The chief had a style that made people want to talk to him—even bank robbers. The robber eventually went to federal prison, and every Christmas the chief got a Christmas card from the man in prison. He would post it on his office door and smile.

  • Christmas Eve in 1983 was particularly cold and windy. I remember the high was -9F, and overnight it dropped to -25F. The wind and cold made it painful to be outside. It was so cold that churches canceled their Christmas Eve services due to the weather. I was working an overnight shift, and it was rare to see another car on the road. Then I drove up on a beat-up old car with a flat tire. The car was on the shoulder of the highway with a mom and three kids inside. If it is possible to look poor, they looked poor. They were trying to get to a relative’s house two hours away. They had no cash, but they had a spare tire, and it had air in it.

    An officer from a neighboring city, Dave, drove up to check on me. Apparently I was not hearing my radio, as it was buried under a couple of layers of quilted vests and my winter jacket. I had not responded to the dispatcher checking on me, and they sent Dave. Upon hearing this family’s plight, Dave said, “Shall we go for it?”

    With that being said, we moved the family into the two police cars and began to change the tire. It was so cold that Dave would work a minute and then run back to his car, then I would run to the car and pick up where Dave left off. It was often just a few turns of the lug wrench and then back to the car to warm up. We kept that tag-team system going and would tell each other how much progress we made as we passed each other. The kids loved it and laughed as they watched us race back and forth. We had them on their way again in about a half hour.

    Dave has retired, and when I saw him recently we reminisced about the family with the flat tire. Imagine all the stuff we had seen and experienced in our two police careers, and it is interesting that we like to remember the family with the flat tire on Christmas Eve. 

Up next: A Dividend for LMCIT Members!

Stay safe and happy holidays,

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

What’s Up With Line-Ups?

The training recommends photos be
shown to eyewitnesses one at a time.
Some of you may remember this was the title of one our Safety & Loss Control Workshops last spring. The session focused on the forensic science that has led to new standards for police in handling line-ups and show-ups. As many of you know, some witnesses immediately recognize the subject, and many do not. A great deal has been learned about eyewitness identifications reliability and unreliability. Much of the data came from studying the factors that lead to wrongful incarcerations of innocent people. And the research has shown that in 75% of the wrongful incarcerations, the factor that led to the conviction was a mistake of an eyewitness identification.

Very few crime victims or eyewitnesses wake up in the morning knowing they are going to witness a crime that day. And their recollection of what happened—or of the suspect’s description—can be influenced by a variety of factors. Many of these crimes happen at night, they happen fast, and a witness’s own implicated bias may affect what they remember. 

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has a great online training program on this topic, and it is perfect for roll calls training or training sessions. The training is based on the IACP model policy and recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences. The training modules are about five minutes long and begin with a compelling story of a wrongful incarceration and its consequences. The training walks officers through the process for their initial response, show-ups, photo arrays, and live line-ups.

This process is the standard for most jurisdictions, and it is important for patrol officers as well as investigators. You can access the training online here.

Up next: Holiday Stories

Stay safe,

Monday, November 6, 2017

Work Comp Statistics

The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) is the provider of workers’ compensation coverage for almost all the cities in Minnesota. I thought our readers would be interested in a few statistics from a recent LMCIT Board update.

Police Losses was the heading that caught my eye. It read, “Police losses continue to be the largest cost component of the workers’ compensation program, which from 2013-16 represented 31% of all costs and averaged $6.8 million per year. Recent data shows that over a quarter of injuries to police resulting in lost time occur when apprehending a suspect and foot pursuits”. If that looks familiar, you may have seen a similar conclusion in the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) national study on reducing officer injuries.

The chart below shows both the number of claims and costs going back to 2009. The data for 2017 will be coming in well into 2018.

Under the heading of Fire (Paid & Volunteer) Losses, the text read: “Paid and volunteer firefighter losses accounted for 20% of all incurred loss costs during 2013-16. From 2009 –June 2017, the most significant causes of injury attributed to lost time claims are due to lifting, pushing and pulling activities (36%), and falling or slipping (26%). An analysis of older claims (2009-12) shows that firefighters are injured most at fire scenes (37%), when providing emergency medical services (25%), performing fire station maintenance (14%), and during training (13%).Volunteer firefighters account for 60% of all loss costs, with paid firefighters accounting for 40%.

In the chart below, note the increase in the number of work comp claims in 2016 but a decrease in cost. It appears the decrease in cost was due to fewer serious injuries that year. 

While we need to be careful about drawing conclusions from this data, we do know a couple of things. Public Safety (police and fire) makes up 51% of the total LMCIT work comp cost. That’s a big number—it is costly and, most importantly, it is our membership being injured on the job. Most of these injures continue to occur while our responders are engaged in activities that have historically and predictably caused injury. For police, it is taking people into custody, and for fire it is lifting, pulling and pushing, and slipping and falling at fire calls and EMS scenes. And, the 2016 numbers for fire work comp look encouraging. 

Public safety and emergency work has risk, and we know the activities where a majority of the injuries occur. Concentrate your safety efforts and awareness on what the numbers are telling us.

Up next: Eyewitness Identifications—Training Designed for Roll Calls
Stay safe (as I write this, snow is falling over much of the state. This winter, slow down, watch out for each other, and keep safety on your mind),

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Training Opportunity - ICAT

The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) are partnering to bring important new law enforcement training to Minnesota. It’s called ICAT, which stands for Integrating Communications, Assessment, and Tactics. ICAT has four key areas of focus: patrol officer response; non-firearms response; integration of crisis areas recognition-intervention, communications, and tactics; and officer safety and wellness.

In recent months, PERF has hosted four national meetings on how to implement their new ICAT training guide. Approximately 1,100 law enforcement professionals, representing more than 425 agencies, attended the sessions in New Orleans, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Camden County (NJ). Given the continued interest in ICAT, they are now bringing the training to St. Paul.

Here is a description of this training from their materials:

ICAT is an integrated training approach designed to help officers safely and effectively defuse many types of encounters, especially incidents involving persons who are unarmed or are armed with weapons other than firearms and who may be experiencing a mental health or other crisis. Feedback from our sessions has been positive, and many agencies have either implemented ICAT or are in the process of doing so.

The Minnesota meeting will be held on November 15 at the University of St. Thomas campus in St. Paul. Find more information here on ICAT and how to register for the Minnesota implementation meeting.

Here is a news report on the success of ICAT in New Jersey.

Up next: A Look at Public Safety Work Comp Numbers

Stay safe,

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Implicit Bias Training

The Alexandria Police Department recently hosted training sessions on Implicit Bias Training for Law Enforcement Professionals. The course was taught by representatives of the Anti-Defamation League. Captain Scott Kent invited me to attend, and I had no idea what to expect.

The training room was full that morning with officers from Alexandria and from sheriff’s offices and police departments in the region. It was apparent that many of the officers and deputies knew each other well. I saw that Chief Rick Wyffels was sitting in the front row of tables. During the course introduction, Captain Kent told us that parts of the discussions that morning may make us uncomfortable.

The instructors led us through discussions, some personal reflections, and in exercises that helped bring out an understanding of this issue. With colored markers in hand, we moved around the room publicly sharing our backgrounds and thoughts on sheets of paper taped to the walls. There was occasional humor, and then it was back to business.

The final exercise for the class was to work in small groups to review an incident while looking for bias—both implicit and explicit—and develop a plan for how to handle what was happening. With each small group reporting back to the class, it was impressive to see how seriously they took the training, and their level of professionalism.

I thank Chief Wyffels and Captain Kent for allowing me to sit in and attend the class. To sponsor a class of this quality, on this topic, at this time, taught by instructors from the Anti-Defamation League, was impressive. Captain Kent said some of the evaluations from the previous day’s class indicated officers thought the course should have been longer.

Up next: A New Training Opportunity

Stay safe,

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Automated License Plate Readers Audits

Automated License Plate Readers (ALPR) are the law enforcement tools that run and check license plates of cars as they pass the reader, or as the police pass them. The departments that have readers are required to conduct an independent audit of their ALPR records.

Minnesota Statute 13.824 requires an independent audit of the law enforcement agency’s ALPR records every other year. And since the law requiring the audits was passed two years ago, many departments are coming on up conducting their audit for the first time.

The Officer of the State Auditors is available to perform the audits for departments with the readers. Law enforcement agencies interested in having the Office of the State Auditor conduct this audit should contact Greg Hierlinger at (651) 296-7003 or

We have additional information on the audit requirement here on the League’s website.

Up next: Implicit Bias Training

Stay safe,

Friday, September 1, 2017

EMAC: The Best Way to Avoid the Complex Liabilities of Self-Deployment

Perhaps like many of you, I’ve been glued to the television coverage of the flooding in Texas. A news report recently covered a local fire official asking for help from “anyone with a boat.”

Despite this televised request, self-deployment of fire and rescue assets can create some problems for both the sender and the receiver. Unrequested staff and equipment can quickly become a logistical burden for communities already in crisis. The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) continues to recommend that self-deployment be avoided.

However, fire and rescue departments can check with the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) systema state-to-state agreementto see if Texas and its communities have formally requested the type of aid a Minnesota department can provide. If a city deploys under the EMAC agreement, there are certain protections in place under Minnesota law, including:

  • If you have a professional or other skilled license, certificate, or permit issued by the State of Minnesota, you shall be deemed licensed, certified, or permitted to render aid in the other state.
  • You are an agent of the requesting state for tort liability and immunity purposes.
  • You cannot be held liable if acting in good faith (without willful misconduct, gross negligence, or recklessness).
  • The State of Minnesota shall pay compensation and death benefits to injured employees.
  • The State of Minnesota shall be reimbursed for its expenses by the state receiving assistance.

In self-deployment situations, these protections likely will not exist.

Currently on the EMAC system, there is a request for 100 Swift Water Rescue and Search and Rescue (SAR) teams. For more information, contact Cassie Calametti (DPS)  at

Up next: Help With License Plate Reader Audits

Stay safe,

Monday, August 21, 2017

Ford to Repair U.S. Police Vehicles Following Carbon Monoxide Concerns - A Guest Blog by LMCIT Loss Control Field Service Manager Joel Muller

Headlines like this may be causing concern if your police department has these vehicles in its fleet. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas which can be deadly. Exposure to elevated levels of carbon monoxide can include headache, dizziness, weakness, vision problems, sleepiness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.

In a statement issued by Ford Motor Company, the organization said it believes the cause of the problem may be tied back to the after-market installation of various police equipment. Ford believes that improperly sealed holes caused by these installations may be the source of carbon monoxide leaking back into the vehicle.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is also investigating and has been looking to determine how widespread issues with the Ford Explorer SUVs may be. The agency recently expanded its investigation into 1.3 million Explorers from model years 2011-2017.

So what can you do while this investigation is still pending? If you have a Ford SUV in your police fleet, or if your Fire Department has them in theirs, check inside the cab for carbon monoxide levels.

Guest blogger/LMCIT Loss Control
Field Service Manager Joel Muller
Carbon monoxide detectors are readily available at most retail stores. A typical household carbon monoxide detector can be used for this purpose, but they are somewhat bulky. Another option is a carbon monoxide monitor, which is the size of a standard key fob. Some models may plug into a power port on the vehicle dash, eliminating the need for a battery. There are various manufacturers of these units, which can be easily found online. Your fire department may also already have this equipment.

If the alarm on one of these units does sound, you may want to consider blood testing the officer for elevated levels of carbon monoxide. The table below will provide some guidance as to when blood testing for the officer should be considered:

Level of CO        Health Effects and Other Information
0 PPM                 Normal, fresh air
9 PPM                 Maximum recommended indoor CO level (ASHRAE)
10-24 PPM          Possible health effects with long-term exposure
25 PPM               Max TWA exposure for 8-hour workday (ACGIH)
50 PPM               Maximum permissible exposure in workplace (OSHA)

For additional information on this issue, see the links below: 

Up next: EMAC—The Best Way to Avoid the Complex Liabilities of Self-Deployment

Stay safe,

Friday, August 11, 2017

Focus on Changing the Culture—Addressing EMS Provider Stress and Mental Health

The Burnsville Fire Department is changing their
culture on responder stress and mental health.
That’s the title of a Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS)-sponsored webinar that features Burnsville’s Fire Chief BJ Jungmann and Assistant Fire Chief Brian Carlson. The presentation is more of a conversation, as the chiefs talk about the lessons learned after Chief Carlson began to struggle with a mental health problem. While the overall lesson was a focus on changing the department culture, they did have some specific recommendations.

Some of those included the topics of:

  • Training
  • Having good intentions
  • Preparing for worst-case scenarios
  • Always communicating
  • Expecting and dealing with the fear of the unknown
  • Knowing the work comp process and having a plan
  • Providing leadership 
  • Having a return-to-work program

This topic (and the recommendations included in the webinar) aligned with last spring’s workshop session on mental health, and we will be making this topic a priority for the next year as well. I extend a huge thank you to BJ and Brian for sharing their story and for their dedication to this important topic.

You can find and view the JEMS webinar here.

Up next: Help With the Audit of Automated License Plate Readers

Stay safe,

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


In-car computers will now be accessing MNLARS.
As this blog is being posted, Minnesota is transitioning its 30-year-old Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) mainframe records system to MNLARS—the Minnesota License and Registration System. This is a large project that includes linking 6.4 million vehicle records with 4.1 million driver records. The system involves partnerships with law enforcement, local, state and federal agencies, courts, deputy registrars, and drivers’ license agents.

The new system will look a little different but is designed to be intuitive, and training will not be necessary. When fully implemented, MNLARS will increase data integrity and system security, increase fraud protection, and improve accessibility to information. It will also improve support to its wide range of end users. Full migration onto the new system will not be complete until 2018.

Some of the new changes include a larger address field, the color of a vehicle now being mandatory, and the vehicle descriptions will now match the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) codes. The NCIC is the federal computerized index of criminal justice information.

Be sure to alert your non-system users who use information from the system to these changes. These users include police department support staff, city and county attorneys, and their staff as well.

If you have further questions about MNLARS, contact the BCA Service Desk at

Up next: Two Local Fire Chiefs Talk About Handling a Mental Health Crisis

Stay safe,

Friday, July 14, 2017

LMC 2017 Law Summaries

Bemidji police officers build relationships
during a previous National Night Out.
National Night Out is less than one month away, and a new law now allows local units of government to expend funds to support programs which “foster positive relationships” between law enforcement and the community they serve.

Cities with “Community Medical Response Emergency Medical Technicians” should be aware the description of “covered services” for medical aid now includes post-discharge visits from a skilled nursing facility and not only a hospital.

These are just some of the bills that passed into law during the 2017 Minnesota legislative session. There are also changes to the laws regarding fire sprinkler system requirements, funding for grants in sex trafficking prevention, and numerous changes to the DWI laws. The funding amounts for hazmat and chemical teams, bomb squad reimbursements, the new funding amounts for police officer training, and the change in requirements for officer continuing education credits are spelled out as well.

If you’re looking for information on new laws like these that impact cities, the just-released League of Minnesota Cities 2017 Law Summaries is your guide. Assembled by the League’s Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) team, this document includes an overview of the session, as well as a summary of the bills that did not become law, and the bills the governor vetoed. It’s also bookmarked for easy reference.

Get information on more new laws impacting data practices, election laws, employment laws, and the creation and extension of many local sales taxes. The new liquor laws include laws regarding brew pub retail sales, micro-distilleries, cocktail rooms, and the extension of bar hours during the Super Bowl weekend. And yes, liquor stores can now open on Sundays.

Find all of this and more in the LMC 2017 Law Summaries.

Up next: Information on the New Minnesota Licensing and Registration Systems (MNLARS)

Stay safe,

Monday, June 26, 2017

Live Burn

Fire comes through the door
on the front of the house,
referred  to as the A-Side.
The radio crackled with the message, “The fire has been knocked down.” The crew inside radioed they were starting to ventilate. In a few more minutes they made their way down the stairs and were outside. The bedroom fire that had been set for training had been put out.

The Savage Fire Department invited me to observe a live burn training at an old house that was scheduled for demolition. The amount of planning, preparation, and attention to safety was exemplary as Deputy Fire Chief John Babin delivered his briefing. He made sure to include that if a Mayday message was heard on the radio it would be a real emergency and not part of the training that night. Some areas of the house were not going to be used and were designated “out of bounds.” The training followed the National Fire Protection Agency standard #1403 for live burn training.

Multiple water sources were in place.

The preparation for the water supply included a main engine, a backup engine, a collapsible tank filled with water, and two tanker trucks standing by. Backup hose lines were in place, and each crew member entering the building was tracked and observed. Room temperatures were monitored for safety and to allow the instructors to stay ahead of a problem. This building was old, and they did not want any surprises.

Each crew that rotated in and out was quiet as they approached the building. They got down on their knees as they connected to their air supplies and double-checked their protective equipment. It was all business. It reminded me of the “Sterile Cockpit” concept used in aviation, where only mission-critical conversation takes place during takeoffs and landings.

A crew prepares to enter the house.
The training was carefully controlled with new firefighters getting a less intense fire before advancing to a higher level. Most crews would get to a window after they had knocked down the fire and would radio they were about to begin hydraulic ventilation. They sprayed a fog stream of water through the window, and the resulting “Venturi effect” created suction in the room and pulled smoke and heat out. Once the firefighters were back outside, the critique that followed included both the firefighters’ actions and the resulting behavior of the fire.

A crew member monitors the water supplies and hose lines.
As the last crew came out of the house the building was inspected for signs of residual heat or fire, as the house would be used again for training the following day. As the crews started their clean-up, the homeowners who had been watching the training brought them a tray of cheese and crackers. It was a nice touch.

A big thank you to Savage Fire Chief Joel McColl and Deputy Chief John Babin for allowing me to watch.

Up next: 2017 LMC Law Summaries

Stay safe,

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Common Themes at the Minnesota Safety and Health Conference

I was struck by the common themes I heard during the presentations at the recent 2017 Minnesota Safety and Health Conference. This annual conference is presented by the Minnesota Safety Council and is attended by risk management and safety professionals from both the private and public sector. The attendees reflect a good mix of experience and training. This year’s conference slogan was “Drive Safe, Work Safe, and Live Safe.”

Like many large conferences, there were large general sessions and then a mix of concurrent sessions which tend to have a smaller focus and feature both successful safety programs and upcoming challenges. The session titles of “Fit for Duty,” “Human Error—What a Lame Excuse,” “Journey to Zero,” “Modernization of Security Operations and Awareness,” and “I Own Safety” were reflective of session messages. And I noted some frequent themes in these sessions.

Whether it was called employee-driven, employee involvement, or ownership, the theme of employee engagement was common. Successful safety programs involve front-line staff from the beginning. They are everyone’s program. These organizations continually look to their employees to identify safety problems, predict upcoming issues, and brainstorm safety solutions.

Benefits Beyond Injury Reduction 
Presenters would point to a chart with a declining line and explain how injuries have been reduced and the cost of injuries has declined. Many spoke about the additional positive consequences resulting from their safety programs, including increases in: productivity, worker satisfaction, and job retention—and even the cleanliness of their operations. In one session, they noted the company’s sales team features their safety record when working with potential clients. They stress the company’s commitment to safety, and the resulting lack of injuries translates to quality, on-time performance, and increased customer satisfaction

Many presentations mentioned the use of metrics to monitor their injuries and to spot trends. There was cautionary advice about carefully examining the metrics, as they may not always be measuring what the risk manager thinks is being measured. And there was quite a bit of discussion about vehicle telemetric programs where fleet vehicles with sensors document the vehicles’ speed, sudden stops, swerves, and seat belt use. The discussions and questions indicated this may be commonplace soon.

A shout out to Owatonna and Rochester Public Utilities and the City of Red Wing on receiving Governor’s Safety Achievement Awards. The awards are well deserved! Congratulations.

Up next: Observations from a Live Burn

Stay safe,

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Best Practices for Emergency Apparatuses in Parades—A Guest Blog by LMCIT Loss Control Field Consultant Troy Walsh

Guest Blogger/LMCIT Loss Control
Field Consultant Troy Walsh
Everyone loves fire trucks when they are in a parade. The public sees the bright shiny fire truck, polished chrome, flashing lights and sirens, and of course the candy. But what happens when someone complains about the siren being too loud, or if there is an emergency during the parade? How about the public, or even firefighters riding in or on the apparatus? These all have liability, and LMCIT has paid claims for parade-related issues. To avoid injury or liability claims, there are some best practices to follow.

Transporting to and from the parade:

  • The Fire Apparatus Operator (FAO) should be trained and approved by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) to drive and operate the apparatus. 
  • Pre-trip inspections should be completed to ensure the apparatus is road worthy, and all standard lights, emergency lights, warning devices, and safety features are working. 
  • Make sure that apparatuses in the parade are considered “out-of-service.” Backup equipment not in the parade should have the responsibility to respond to emergencies. Parade apparatuses should stay “out-of-service” until they are clear of the parade route.
  • Fire apparatus that is going to or coming from a parade should follow all Minnesota state laws, including the use of seatbelts by everyone on board. 
  • Riding on the tailboard, sideboard, ladders, or in any unseated or unbelted position should be prohibited. 
  • Be sure not to exceed the approved occupancy for seat belts.

Participating in the parade:
  • Prior to the beginning of the parade, hold a “safety briefing” for all participants involved to be sure they understand the safety rules and parade route. 
  • The FAO shall adhere to all parade rules and guidelines.
  • Be sure to verify the rules for using emergency sirens and air horns with the parade organizers. Their use should be limited, if used at all. These types of loud sounds can startle or scare horses, dogs, and parade watchers, and the decibel level could damage hearing. 
  • The use of any emergency lights is allowed but should be used with caution. 
  • Personnel riding in the apparatus should be seated and should use the seat belts. There should be no riding on tailboard, sideboards, ladders, or in any unseated position.
  • No candy or objects should be thrown from the apparatus by occupants.
  • Distribution of candy or objects should be done by participants walking alongside of the apparatus. The walkers should maintain a line of sight with the FAO.
  • Have designated walkers beside each tire to ensure that bystanders and children do not move towards or under the apparatus, as children will sometimes leave the curb and quickly go into the street if they see a piece of candy.
Antique fire trucks may require extra precautions.

Other guidelines:
  • Operation of any apparatus while under the influence of alcohol or any illicit drugs is strictly prohibited and against Minnesota State Law.
  • If the fire apparatus must drive in reverse or an operation that limits visibility, the FAO must ensure that there is a “spotter” located in the blind-spots of the apparatus. (Parade staging areas tend to be crowded.)
  • Fire apparatus is not limited to engines, rescues, ladders, or tankers. It also includes command vehicles, utility vehicles, ATV’s, and specialty units. If seat belts are available, they are required to be worn by Minnesota State Law. 
  • Antique fire apparatuses typically do not have seatbelts installed so are not required to be worn, but the other safety guidelines still apply.
  • Anytime the apparatus is parked, “wheel chocks” should be used to keep the apparatus from accidentally rolling. 

What if there an accident with injuries? 
  • Immediately stop, and call 911.
  • Attend to anyone injured.
  • Notify the parade organizers as soon as possible. 

What if there is a property damage accident? 
  • Notify the parade organizer/committee as soon as possible.
  • If the damage is to another vehicle or property, be sure to notify law enforcement. 
  • Follow department policy on vehicle accidents. 

Parades are a great time to showcase your fire department and equipment. Make the most of this opportunity by ensuring you have a safe event.

Up next: Common Themes—A Snapshot of the Minnesota Safety Council Safety and Health Conference

Stay safe,

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Helpful Links

An Inver Grove Heights firefighter duty crew 
is pictured here with Chief Judy Thill.
Photo courtesy of Kathryn Forss.
Fire Duty Crews
We are seeing more cities augmenting their paid on call or volunteer fire department with duty crews or paid staff. The use of a duty crew helps lower response times while helping to address the lack of traditional volunteers. A recent copy of the League’s Minnesota Cities magazine has a feature article on this trend.

Did You Know?
The titles are interesting and the videos are relevant. “Procedural Justice”, “Alzheimer’s”, “Diplomatic Immunity”, “School Violence”, “Mental Health”, “Dispatcher Stress”, “Complacency and Domestic Violence.” The titles are part of the California POST Board’s “Did You Know?” online training series. They explore current law enforcement topics and safety issues in professionally produced three- to ten-minute, high-quality productions.

The videos work well for department meetings and roll calls. They can also be very effective for public presentations and citizen’s academies, as they shed light on the difficulties officers face daily—and there is even a little “cop humor” in a couple of scenes. Here’s the link.

Additional Resources
The California Post Board has additional online training available, including their “Safe Driving Series.” In the video entitled, “Remembering 5th and Wall,” they revisit the tragic loss that occurred when two Los Angeles police cars collided.

Up next: Parade Season is Here: Tips for Firetruck Parade Safety (a guest blog by Troy Walsh)

Stay safe,

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Super Bowl Contract Reviews

Minneapolis will be hosting Super Bowl LII (52) this coming February and will be asking for law enforcement assistance from throughout the region. Securing the ten days of events around the Super Bowl will require a tremendous number of police personnel.

Before your city enters a contract to provide officers for this effort, be sure to have the contract reviewed by the League’s legal staff before it is signed.

The contract review is free to member cities! And the LMCIT legal staff is familiar with these agreements, as well as with the unique liability issues that may be associated with the Super Bowl. The review will make sure both your city and the contracted entity have the proper coverage for any claims that could arise.

For more information on this contract review, contact:

Chris Smith
Risk Management Attorney
(651) 281-1269
(800) 925-1122

Up next: Helpful Links

Stay safe,

Monday, April 10, 2017

Report from the Workshops

The 2017 Safety & Loss Control Workshops are underway. In addition to the content in the classes, the workshops are a wonderful opportunity to both connect and reconnect with our members. We have staff from all the LMCIT departments on site, and it is an excellent time to ask about a topic that is not on the agenda or to get some one-on-one time to talk about how to avoid a potential problem.

The police track is in its normal morning time slot, and attendees will earn three POST credits. I have also noticed a large number of officers taking in the afternoon sessions in both the Administrative and HR & Leadership tracks. Those sessions too are approved for POST credit.

SPPD Sgt. Brian Casey
In the morning police track, Saint Paul Police Department (SPPD) Sergeant Brian Casey’s session entitled “What to Do When Officer D. Stress Asks for Help” is generating lots of conversation both during and after the class. Sergeant Casey heads up the SPPD’s employee assistance unit and looks at the impact of dealing with critical incidents, traumatic events, and the general mental and emotional distress that goes with the job. The session also covers how to respond to officers who are in a behavioral health crisis. His passion for his work and concern for the well-being of “the cops” is evident.

We thank Sergeant Casey for his contribution to this year’s workshops and to SPPD Chief Todd Axtell for making Sergeant Casey available.

Up next: Super Bowl Contract Reviews

Stay safe,

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Spring Wheels—A Guest Blog by LMC Research Manager Jeanette Behr

In your city, do spring showers bring out a bevy of golf carts? A whole host of new low-powered vehicles—from mini-trucks to electric bicycles—are growing in popularity. City councils may decide to regulate some of these vehicles on city streets, like golf carts, mini trucks, utility task vehicles, and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).

If a city does not permit the use of these “special vehicles,” then they are not allowed on city streets. Running them around on private land is not something the city can regulate (unless the noise is an issue), but that is for another blog.

Hold your horses, though—not all low-powered vehicles are subject to city regulation! Cities cannot prohibit motorized foot scooters (like Razor™), pocket bikes, mini-motorcycles, motorized bicycles and electric assisted bicycles, or mopeds. These fun wheels are governed by state law and are subject to just limited city regulation.

And some devices used by pedestrians are not subject to much regulation. Examples include Segways, manual or motorized wheelchairs, scooters, tricycles, or similar devices used by people with disabilities as a substitute for walking. State law limits the use of these vehicles on sidewalks unless the rider is crossing the street.

For miles of information on how our city may deal with these new-fangled rides (have you seen an autocycle—basically a Batmobile?), see the LMC memo Specialty Vehicles Operating on City Streets.

This memo contains an appendix with definitions and a chart that displays types of vehicles, operator requirements, regulatory authority, and statutory citations.

Up next:  A report from the 2017 Spring Loss Control Workshops

Stay safe,

Friday, March 3, 2017

Firefighters and Protective Hoods (a guest post by LMCIT Loss Control Field Consultant Troy Walsh)

Guest blogger/LMCIT Loss Control
Field Consultant Troy Walsh
There is no argument that firefighting is a dangerous business. Now, new dangers are being researched to increase firefighter safety. Cancer among firefighters has unfortunately become more common, but so has the research and education on how to help prevent these cancers.

Routes of cancer-causing carcinogens vary with each person and type of personal protective equipment (PPE) the firefighter wears, but firefighter protective hoods may be the weakest link. The boots, protective pants and coat, gloves, and helmet typically have two or three layers of protection for the firefighter underneath. Even with those layers of protection the risk of exposure is still a threat, but the protective hood only has a single layer of protection.

The firefighter in the left-hand image is double-covered from the coat, helmet, and helmet rear flap. But look near the mask and notice the hood: under the hood is the firefighter’s skin.

Look closely at the hood pictured in the image to the right and you can see a definitive exposure line where the firefighter has the most exposure—and this hood has only been used in two fire situations.

Educating firefighters about the exposures is a start. Increasing maintenance and cleaning of PPE will also help in reducing these exposures. As research and education advance, firefighters will need to adapt to new procedures to reduce these exposures to remain long-term firefighters.

Here are some links to additional information:

  • This short news report helps explain these types of cancers and routes of exposure.
  • A 6-minute education piece for firefighters on protecting themselves and others from cancer-causing exposures.
  • A brief clip on firefighter PPE contamination and routes of exposure.
  • This bulletin from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) discusses firefighter hoods. 

  • Up next: A guest blog on the regulation of lower-powered vehicles—“Spring Wheels”—from mini trucks to electric bicycles.

    Stay safe,
    Rob and Troy

    Wednesday, February 15, 2017

    City Administrator and Law Enforcement Training

    The Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association (MCPA) is hosting two workshops for city officials.

    This training will provide city managers, administrators, and councilmembers a better understanding of police departments and their 21st century challenges—especially since law enforcement has come under such public scrutiny.

    Each 6-hour session will cover use-of-force issues, dissemination of public information, training priorities, setting expectations, and a communications plan to facilitate a more cohesive chief-administration relationship.

    While the content will be geared toward city leaders, police chiefs are welcome and encouraged to attend this training to assist in building a common community law enforcement vision using a global view of where a police department fits into the overall city structure.

    They are offering the course on two dates at two different locations:

    March 7, 2017: National Joint Powers Alliance Training Facility in Staples

    May 24, 2017: MCPA Training Facility in New Brighton

    For more information and to register, go to:

    Up next: The National Fire Protection Association Bulletin on Firefighter’s Protective Hoods

    Stay safe,

    Wednesday, February 1, 2017

    The "Tabletop"

    The Apple Valley Police Department (AVPD) asked if I wanted to observe their tabletop exercise for a “Check the Welfare” call. At a tabletop exercise, participants talk and think through how they would handle a problem while sitting around a table. It’s a safe and often synergistic process for planning a response.

    It was part of their staff meeting, and all supervisors, sergeants, and up were at the table, including the chief. The process used a PowerPoint presentation that started with the initial information given to the officers and, over the course of the exercise, more information and complexity were presented. Captain Nick Francis facilitated the exercise and discussion. Here is the information from the first slide:

    • Officers are dispatched to a suicidal person call, information in the card reads: 
    • RP states she received a text from her husband who indicated he was suicidal. The male lives at 12345 Cedar Avenue. The text stated ‘It’s just not worth it anymore, goodbye.’ He also sent a picture with himself holding a knife. RP advises the male has numerous weapons in the residence and has a history of violence.”
    • Two AVPD squads are dispatched to the residence to check the welfare.

    Some of the initial thoughts were: get a supervisor on the way, obtain more accurate information, and determine if anyone else is with the man. One supervisor said he would assign an officer to track down the original caller and not rely on the limited information that comes through the dispatcher. Another said he would bring in additional officers depending on who was working, such as officers who have had additional training in crisis intervention or negotiations. As the call got more complex, they discussed not wanting to push the call into a situation where they would have to use force. They also reviewed applicable state statutes.

    The scenario continued:

    • The first officer arrives on scene and reports the male’s vehicle is in the driveway. There is fresh snowfall, and tracks indicate the vehicle arrived within the last couple of hours. 
    • One of the officers speaks to the complainant on the phone and learns she is on her way home and will be there in 5 minutes.
    • What immediate options do the officers have? Where should they be standing by?

    As they concluded the exercise, they talked about ways they could improve their response and were looking to additional programs and training they could evaluate. They planned to replicate the exercise with all of their officers at upcoming training sessions. I thank Chief Jon Rechtzigel and Captain Nick Francis for allowing me to attend.

    Up next: Minnesota Chiefs of Police Training for City Officials

    Stay safe,

    Monday, January 23, 2017

    Carbon Monoxide and First Responders (a guest post by LMCIT Senior Loss Control Consultant Joe Ingebrand, CSP)

    Guest blogger/LMCIT Senior
    Loss Control Consultant
    Joe Ingebrand, CSP
    When you’re saving others, don’t forget to protect yourself!

    In a small, rural Minnesota community, a woman returns home to find her husband unresponsive. She calls 911. Ambulance, law enforcement, and fire department personnel respond to the scene inside the garage. When it’s over, the husband is deceased, and the woman—along with seven EMS staff—have been exposed and are being treated for carbon monoxide poisoning.

    This serves as a reminder to emergency personnel that while you can never know what you may be confronted with at the scene, being prepared with effective and functioning safety equipment can help to ensure the safety of the citizens you serve and yourself.
    Most fire departments own (or have access to) a 4-gas meter needed to respond to confined space entry accidents and potential exposure to carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, oxygen deficiency, and flammable environments. While these meters are effective, they are relatively expensive (about $2,000) and need frequent calibration and service to remain effective. Some fire departments have partnered with the city’s public works department in the purchasing of a 4-gas meter, since both departments’ use of the meter is infrequent.

    There are also single-gas CO-monitors available for around $300. Some fire departments will carry them on their EMS truck to use during EMS calls, especially in the winter months when these types of calls are more frequent.

    MNOSHA Safety Grants

    To defray the cost of employee safety equipment—including these aforementioned gas detection meters—Minnesota OSHA has matching safety grants available to cities and all Minnesota employers.

    For additional information on preparing and responding to calls associated with carbon monoxide, see the links listed below from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the National Fuel Gas Code Handbook. After all, preparation is the key to safe and effective emergency response.

    Up next: Police Use a Table-Top Exercise to Discuss Responding to a Check-the-Welfare Call

    Stay safe,

    Monday, January 9, 2017

    Cable Median Barriers

    It was coming right at me. My routine morning commute was abruptly becoming a high-speed, head-on crash, and there was no place for me to go. A car on the southbound side of the freeway was rapidly headed into the median and towards me on the northbound side. The rush-hour traffic around me left me no route for escape.

    Then the oncoming car hit the cable median barrier. The air was instantly full of flying car parts, barrier posts, and snow as cables stretched to absorb the car’s speed and keep the car from entering the northbound lanes. Some of the snow made it over the barrier and hit my car. I arrived at work at little late—shaken but uninjured—and with no damage to my car.

    Cable median barriers are not new, but it was impressive to see how well they worked. I know our first responders around the state are familiar with the cable barriers in their response areas, but I want to pass on two of MnDOT’s online resources for public safety responders as reminders. Both would work well for roll call training or indoor training during the cold weather:

    There is no doubt the cable median barrier on 35E saved me from a severe injury or worse.

    Up next: Carbon Monoxide and First Responders

    Stay safe,