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Who is in charge?

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  • Who is in charge?

    This question comes up because I am a volunteer firefighter.

    You have a vehicle crash with injuries and/or fire. Who is in charge of the scene, police or fire? Call it a TA (traffic accident), MVA (Motor Vehicle Accident), TC (Traffic collision), whatever.

    There has been at least one case in Arizona where a Fire Captian was arrested because his fire truck was blocking a lane on the freeway (he was later un-arrested). On the fire side, we are taught to take the lane of the accident +1, to keep the firefighters safe. Our local Sheriff's Office and Department of Public Safety (highway patrol) don't have a problem, because we try to open the road as soon as possible. We work together. At a fatal ('963' on the radio), we stay to help with traffic control until DPS releases the scene.

    So, what do you call it, and who is in charge?
    "A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself."
    John Stuart Mill

  • #2
    In our Incident Command System in CA we are taught the agency with primary investigative authority is in charge.
    Cowboys in town. Trouble expected.

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    • #3
      Fire and EMS are in charge until victims have been removed from scene or fire put out. Police are there at that point to control traffic and maintain the basic integrity of the scene until they can take over and start the paperwork.

      At no time will an officer try to order a fire or ems person around unless there is a safety issue the officer observes that perhaos the ems taff ia unaware of.

      Treatment and Extrication of victims is first priority

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      • #4
        crash scene and no one is under arrest
        the fire dept is in charge...

        i second that emotion !



        www.schackdaddy.com
        " if you talk in your sleep, don't mention my name....
        " if you walk in your sleep, forget where you came....

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        • #5
          I posted this in "International" to see how it's done outside (as well as inside) the U.S.
          So, all you folks from the UK & down under, how do you handle this (and what do you call it)?
          "A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself."
          John Stuart Mill

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          • #6
            Up until the late 80s our police were in charge of the scene, It is now the Fire dept resonsibility.

            Fire officers have been trained by police in relation to minimizing damage to a 'crime scene' and generally we all just get on with our jobs assisting each other where needed.

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            • #7
              In my State, Police have the overall responsibility for the security and safety of the collision scene and also for the co-ordination of attending emergency services.

              This applies not only to highway collisions, but also serious industrial accidents, and any other State Emergency.

              Where major incidents occur the Disaster Plan (DISPLAN) is activated and again, Police Command act as the Co-ordinating Authority.

              Note that I have used the word 'Co-ordinate', and not 'In Charge', because each Emergency Service is responsible for their own actions and if the Fire Brigade or Ambulance Service says they need the Police to block the road, then it gets blocked.

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              • #8
                In England the police are the lead emergency sevice in all incidents including RTA (Road Traffic Accidents) recently re-named RTCs (Road Traffic Collisions). Obviously the fire brigade take more of lead role at fires and chemical spills but the job of the police remains to control and co-ordinate. It is worth noting that we have three seperate major emergency services, being police, fire brigade and a seperate ambulance service unlike the US where I believe you have Fire/EMS normally under one organisation. Generally the services work very well as a team and are often at jobs together.
                carpe diem

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                • #9
                  BritPC, it varies from area to area. In some parts of our East Coast, you could see a fire department, a seperate ambulance service, and a seperate rescue service (extrication from RTCs). In my area, we have the State Department of Public Safety (in charge on state highways), the County Sheriff's office (all other roads), my Volunteer Fire Department, and a seperate Ambulance service from another town.
                  "A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself."
                  John Stuart Mill

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