Taking the Hard (or Soft) Pass

 

Does It Happen More Often Than You Think?

On the weekend, the Washington Post had yet another story regarding the recent death of Medric Mills after DCFD’s 15 Truck took a “pass” on turning out to help him.

15 Truck took the “hard pass” meaning they were in quarters and those in need came to them.

The Hard Pass is gutsy and “in your face.”

Effectively saying no when you are standing right there takes gravitas, of a sort.

What about the much more common “soft pass” when exactly the same thing happens but the fire company is a moving target and the only thing between them and a pass is professional integrity?

My Soft Pass

Rescue Squad 1

Rescue Squad 1

I was once part of a crew that took a “soft pass” on a cardiac arrest.

The rig was a heavy rescue, a GMC Brigadier with the box mounted behind the cab.  Communication between the officer and driver in the cab and the firefighters in the box was via an intercom.

We were returning from a run when an engine, ambulance and medic were dispatched for a person in cardiac arrest.  We were sitting at a traffic light, literally across the street from the dispatch address.  All we had to do was go straight ahead instead of turning left and we would be there.

We turned left.

I hit the intercom and asked the obvious, if were taking in the cardiac arrest, only to be ignored. (It was getting on toward dinnertime.)

(Like many, being first in (by a country mile) to a cardiac arrest isn’t high on my list of fun things to do.)

Still, I was furious but obviously not part of the “up front” clique where wisdom rules between the driver and the officer.

Fire Me?

Had our soft pass become public what would have happened?  Would I have been subject to punishment, even being fired?

Did I do enough?

I have told the story on a number of occasions over the years, I suppose to continue to vent my frustration.

For the record, we were all white, male and paid to do a job that didn’t get done that day.

 

 

1 Comment

  • Glenn says:

    I was probably somewhere in the senior chain of command when this occurred. Wish I had known. No punishment would have occurred as I am sure you recall; instead a thank you for speaking up from yours truly. I always very much appreciated hearing the “hard truth” from you Eric. I have often said if departments cannot do the little things right they are apt not to achieve the big things. This occurrence is not a little thing, however, is an example of the root cause of the demise of an organization. No cause and effect, then it must be OK.

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Bill Hand
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Thanks for the story Eric. I knew that you had been there, but never heard any of the stories. Got any other mountains on your bucket list?
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Eric Lamar
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Thanks, Betty. Super seeing you. Eric
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Eric, you are so right. Keep up the good work and thanks for the visit.
2014-10-21 18:47:57
Eric Lamar
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Thanks, Tom. High praise from a professional editor.
2014-10-21 02:06:55
tom walter
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Very informative, Eric, and good background for the recent tragedy. Especially striking your description of the sky and mountains before dawn. Tom
2014-10-20 12:13:45
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