The question is: What are the guidelines for firefighters entering the unoccupied residence of a patient?

 

Back story

 

In February of 2012 SKF&R responded to a private home. Several contentious events happened, but I am focusing singly on what occurred after the patient was transported to the hospital.

FF Brandon Church ‘remembered’ that he had forgotten a medical device at the patients home. After leaving the hospital, FF Church  and FF Scot McDonald, decided to return to the home, knowing the house was unlocked and unoccupied, to retrieve the device.

 

They did not have permission from the patient, the home owner. The patient was not told the firefighters intended to enter her vacant home. The firefighters had contact information for the patient but chose not to contact her or make her aware of their intentions.

 

Both employees reported this activity, not in any official documents or records at the time, but weeks later during an ensuing related investigation.

 

Finding the action that our firefighters thought nothing of entering the patients home without permission or supervision, I requested the department guidelines for dealing with department equipment left at the scene of an emergency. Specifically, I wanted to see what policy was for entering an unlocked, unoccupied home for non emergency purposes.

 

Results of records request

Received today were pages 491, 492 an 493, section C-11 titled: Equipment Loaned, Lost, Stolen, Left at Scene, or Sent with Patient of the departments Standard Operating Guidelines.

 

Below the heading appear sub-sections for Items Loaned with four directives, Items or Equipment Lost, with two directives, Items Stolen, with two directives and Items Sent to a Hospital or Care Center with a Patient, also with two directives.

 

This section also included procedures for Damaged Equipment which had two directives with additional information.

 

Does anyone else notice a glaring omission?

 

SOG Section C: Equipment C-11 has not one word of guidance on what our firefighters are suppose to do with part 4 of the title; Left at Scene.

 

This was the very information that would have helped guide our firefighters in their retrieval of department equipment that day. And the one thing glaringly missing from protocol.

 

Odd.

 

Very odd indeed

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