By Jason Welin
I returned from ILEETA 2013 with a desire to teach and increase officer safety in my area. After being back for a week, I attended our fire department open house (yes, I’m a cop who is also a firefighter). When I arrived, the trucks had been pulled out onto the pad, and immediately I noticed a new addition to the decals of one of the trucks.
I saw a magnet sign covering the department door decal on every fire apparatus on the pad, including the deputy chief’s vehicles. The decal read: “Conduct Walk Around.”
I asked the fire officers about the program, and the idea was that the decal is removed after conducting a walk around, the contents of which is set by SOPs.
As I thought about the new procedure, I thought back to some of my classes at ILEETA. I thought of how this new idea could be linked to Below 100, and “Not Today!”
In my ‘SWAG bag’ from the ILEETA trade show, I had a handful of “Not Today!” bumper stickers and some Below 100 stickers that we were given in our instructor class.
Consider the Walk-Around
Most traffic and patrol officers do a walk around of their vehicle at the start of their shift. This usually includes a lights/siren check, back seat search, tire check, long gun check, damage check, tire check, and RADAR/LIDAR test. But after a while don’t these walk-arounds and tests become ROUTINE? (Yes, I said the evil curse word of the LE community.)
One way to prevent the dreaded “R” word is to integrate new concepts into our pre-trip inspection. What better concepts to use than “Below 100” and “Not Today!”
So, I picked up some magnet materiel on a trip to the craft store (with my wife, honest!) and made some “Below 100” and “Not Today” bumper stickers. I placed them in two different spots on my squad to remind me to use these excellent programs in my walk around.
How can we include Below 100 in our walk around?
In truth, isn’t our walk around all about Below 100 Tenets #4 — What's Important Now (W.I.N.) and #5 — Remember: Complacency Kills?
At the beginning of our shift, What’s Important Now is to ensure that our squad is prepared and safe for our shift. Are our tires properly inflated, or just round? Do we have the paperwork we need close at hand, so we don’t have to root around with our heads down while on a traffic stop?
Is our shotgun or patrol carbine “patrol ready” or do when we grab that shotgun and go to rack in the first round, is the action locked, catching us off guard? Is our fire extinguisher charged and ready, or was it put back empty?
Remember, ‘Not Today!’
We can also include my friend Dave Smith’s “Not Today!” mantra in our walk around.
When we look at those tires, we can practice “When/Then” thinking, and imagine what we would do if we had a blow out on that tire. Do we brake? Let off on the gas? Steer into, or against the skid?
When we check our shotgun or patrol carbine, we can visualize the most efficient movements to remove the firearm from the rack, while seated, and while leaning into the vehicle, potentially under fire.
When we check our fire extinguisher, we can remember the acronym PASS (which stands for Pull the pin, Aim low at the bottom of the flame, Squeeze the handle, and Sweep side to side).
We can imagine how we would attack a car fire, and suppress it until fire/rescue arrives, or how we might come across smoke from a private residence and the steps we would go through to safely enter and evacuate the house with our (hopefully fully charged) fire extinguisher in hand.
When we check our med kit (which is hopefully a blow out kit, and not just a box of Band-Aids) we can run through a self-aid or buddy-aid scenario. What tools would you use? What resources would you summon?
Is there a life flight chopper nearby? Is it faster to start the transfer yourself in your squad and meet a chopper or ambulance, or is it better to stay in place and wait for aid? What information do you need to pass to dispatch? How about if your squad is equipped with an AED? When you check the unit, do you think about the steps to use it on a civilian having a cardiac emergency, or the unthinkable, a partner or team mate?
The point is, everything we check on our vehicle — and all of our other equipment at the start of a shift should — trigger our imaginations to plan how we can use these tools, or how we should react if they fail.
The next time you start your shift, do your pre-trip with a new attitude and mindset, and remember: Wear Your Belt, Wear Your Vest, Watch Your Speed, WIN — What’s Important Now?, Remember: Complacency Kills, and NOT TODAY!