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RFD, 9-1-1 promote system for information-gathering

When EMS or the fire department responds to an emergency call, it is vitally important that first responders are able to quickly locate those in danger – particularly those who need rescuing from their homes. For Russellville citizens who have disabilities, escaping a home that’s on fire, for example, might be impossibly beyond their power. To aid first responders in quickly locating someone unable to escape a burning building, the Russellville Fire Department and 9-1-1 have developed an information request form to provide crucial information that can be kept on file about people with limited mobility or other disabilities who could need aid in an emergency situation.

“When we get to a residence that’s full of smoke, you can’t see anything. When you open that door up, you’re completely blind,” Fire Chief Joe Mansell said. Although firefighters are taught to work their way around the house in one direction, keeping to the wall, if firefighters know where a person is located in a burning home “our goal is to get them and get them out,” Mansell said. If firefighters can be alerted that a resident is always in a hospital bed in the back left upstairs bedroom, for example, they can more quickly and easily seek out that person.

Firefighter Randy Seal, who has been involved in developing the information form, said many of the people who are mobility-impaired or otherwise disabled are older. Some have breathing difficulties. Any of these health challenges, particularly if multiple limitations are involved, can make someone increasingly vulnerable in a fire.

Brandon James, 9-1-1 director, said any information on file about a residence will pop up for first responders as they respond to an emergency call. “Relaying that kind of stuff helps these guys a lot.” He said this system is common across other municipalities and is actually already in use in Russellville, though it previously has just been used for ancillary details.

The RFD and 9-1-1 also emphasized the importance of having one’s address visible on the outside of the home to help responders identify the house.

To obtain a form to fill out for oneself or a loved one, call or visit Russellville Fire Station 1 on Jackson Avenue.