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You and your crew are dispatched to a motor vehicle incident (MVI). The first order of business is, of course, to secure scene safety

February 26, 2014
By Dave Baird

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You and your crew are dispatched to a motor vehicle incident (MVI). The first order of business is, of course, to secure scene safety – the apparatus driver positions the vehicle to ensure the safe flow of traffic around the scene. Once all of the hazards are removed from the scene the next priority is the care of the patients. If it’s raining, back to the truck to search for an umbrella and rain ponchos for the patients who are not ambulatory and will remain on the scene.

 Car Kit  
The cost-efficient MVI Kit that is carried on all Surrey apparatuses includes insurance cards, pens, bags for belongings, ponchos, and umbrellas. Photo by Rob Aldcorn


 

Back on the scene, the driver of the car, who we’ll call Mr. Smith, expresses concern over reporting the incident to the insurance company, so, back to the truck to find the exchange information cards to assure Mr. Smith that the insurance company is involved.

Whoops, of course Mr. Smith doesn’t have a pen. Back to the truck to find a pen.

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Mr. Smith’s car is about to be towed away. Back to the truck to grab a plastic bag for his possessions. While the possessions are being packed into bags, Mr. Smith misplaces the pen. Back to the truck for another pen . . . Does this sound familiar?

The Surrey Fire Service responds to more than 4,000 MVIs every year, this accounts for 15 per cent of the total emergency response incidents in Surrey. Firefighters regularly witness firsthand the trauma and confusion that people face when confronted with these unexpected incidents. Customer service is a large part of the modern fire service. One of the challenges responders face is co-ordination of all the available resources for success at an incident. 

Members of the Surrey Fire Service have developed a tool called the MVI Kit that saves time and frustration at MVI scenes. The project had the support of administration, Local 1271, and Surrey Fire’s customer service committee. The kit gives responders an opportunity to provide a higher level of support to those involved in collisions.

 department logo  
Surrey had bags specially made that feature the department logo and a fire-safety message.


 

The needs of the myriad Mr. Smiths who are involved in collisions every day are varied and unpredictable; nonetheless, every time contact is made with a person in the community, there is an opportunity to demonstrate a high level of customer service that has become a tradition in the Surrey Fire Service. In many cases, Mr. Smith will see his vehicle leave the scene on the hook of a tow vehicle. For some involved in collisions, this will be the last time they see their cars – and their possessions inside. The Surrey Fire Service recognizes the stress that this places on those involved in collisions and has developed the MVI Kit to facilitate better customer service.

The need for the kit was identified by the firefighters as they made numerous trips back to the various compartments of the truck to grab the resources required to support the people involved in the collisions. Firefighters thought it would be more efficient and effective if all the items were placed into one handy kit that could be easily accessed and carried to the scene in one convenient waterproof and sturdy container.

The MVI Kit contains insurance cards, pens, large white plastic bags, an umbrella, and four rain ponchos.

The kits cost about $12 each. All that is required is a waterproof plastic container that will fit easily into an accessible compartment on board your fire trucks. Regular garbage bags purchased in bulk are sufficient for gathering the possessions of those involved in collisions; however, Surrey Fire Service opted to personalize the kits by upgrading to highly visible, white, heavy duty plastic bags that include a fire safety message, this increased the cost by 22 cents per bag. Surrey Fire decided to prominently display the department logo on the bags, along with the message “Install and Test Your Smoke Alarm,” to leave a lasting reminder of positive customer service. 

An additional benefit of the white plastic bag is its high visibility on dark nights when those involved in collisions may be standing on the side of a road.

The needs of the myriad  
The needs of the myriad Mr. Smiths who are involved in collisions every day are varied and unpredictable; nonetheless, every time contact is made with a person in the community, there is an opportunity to demonstrate a high level of customer service that has become a tradition in the Surrey Fire Service.


 

The dollar store is a good place to find items such as pens and umbrellas. The umbrellas must be sturdy, compact and, ideally, no more than $5 each. To lower the ongoing running costs, the firefighters are reminded not to give away the umbrellas as the intent is to cover the patient during care, or to cover a patient who is physically unable to pull a rain poncho over his or her head. Rain ponchos were purchased through a local fire-supply company for $2.50 each.

Every fire truck on the Surrey Fire Service now carries an MVI Kit. Firefighters are finding the kit handy and easy to use.

“Once the dust has settled at an incident you simply grab the kit, carry it with you, and pass out the right item to meet the customer’s needs,” says Surrey firefighter Brian Boles. “I like it because it saves searching for things because they’re all in one place.”

The MVI Kit is a useful and constructive tool to help those involved in an MVI, and it adds to the services already provided by Surrey’s customer service program, which was started in 2004 and has 10 members from various divisions within the department. 

“I’ve actually left the scene of an accident and the victims were smiling because we took such good care of them,” said Capt. Dean Cleave.

The MVI Kit is a proactive example of the good service that is provided by Surrey’s fire department members.

“The MVI Kit is another opportunity to take our customer service to the next level,” said Assistant Chief Brian Woznikoski.

Firefighters are in a unique position to deliver service. The challenge is to provide a consistent, reliable message, and to co-ordinate the available resources for success on the job.

The MVI Kit is seen by firefighters as an opportunity to give a higher level of support when they are attending to the needs of Mr. Smith.


 Dave Baird  
   

Acting Capt. Dave Baird has worked in the suppression division of the Surrey Fire Service for 21 years. He also instructs for the Justice Institute of BC. In 2012 and 2013 he was a committee member for the validation of the IFSTA Aerial Operators Handbook. He can be reached at DCBaird@surrey.ca


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