first responders

KN, p. 285 “Top Ten New Posts 2021”

Thanks to the thousands of Kerrian’s Notebook readers who have spoken! Here are the Readers’ Choice Top Ten new posts for 2021. Read them for the first time or enjoy them again.  🙂

#10  "Tomato Basil Chicken Soup"






#9  "Was It Medical Malpractice?"

#8  "Hurricane Season Opened June 1st"


#7  "About the Bats"




#6  "Recovery Times for On the Job Injuries"

#5  "Visiting Detective Kylee Kane - HOA Murder"

#4  "Chicken Pot Pie"

#3  "The Impact of Weather on Guns and Bullets"

#2  "Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake Bars"

and the most read new post in 2021 was:

"Visiting Detective Quinn Sterling"

Here's to a great 2022 and Happy Sleuthing!



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KN, p. 227 “What kind of fire truck is that?”


Several of our pals are firefighters so when we visited the North Carolina cousins, we made sure to stop by the South Atlantic Fire Rescue Expo in Raleigh. We had a blast looking at all the trucks, and I mean ALLLL the trucks, big and small. It’s a terrific family event, with demos all day long, classes for the working firefighters and other rescue personnel, and opportunities for the money guys in the departments to plunk down orders for new, specialized trucks.


Heavy Duty Rescue Truck

When a fire truck rolled down the street, I never used to pay attention to what kind it was. Red was all I remembered as it passed by. Turns out, there are many different types, designed for distinctive situations. Fires are not always the same. There are industrial fires, apartment building fires, private home fires, brush fires miles away from a water supply…and more…so there are a variety of trucks to fit the needs.


On the TV show, “Chicago Fire,” two of the teams at the fire station are assigned to different trucks and have different responsibilities – the men and women on squad and the men and women on engine. They even sit at different tables when relaxing between calls. The squad fire truck has extra material and equipment (big ladders and other tools) for ground support, rescue, and site cleanup. It’s usually more specialized than the fire engine and would be called out for structure fires. The fire engine has hoses and water to fight the fires and is usually the first one sent out to a scene.









The multiple hoses needed are called ‘lines’ at the fire. If they kink while being used, the water won’t flow, so the engine has ladders and equipment to aid in the positioning of the lines, along with the smaller equipment the fire station considers important for the area/fires being fought.


Need more light at the scene for those difficult night fires? The Nightscan can be mounted on the trucks to light up the ground around the work area.



Here are a few of the firefighting vehicles we saw:

Heavy Duty Truck with Aerial Lift

The Heavy Duty Rescue trucks are generally 17’ or longer and carry about 4,000 pounds of equipment. That equipment will vary depending on the type of fires or rescue duty the firefighters face in their region. It might be rigged for wet or dry situations, hazmat, search and rescue, incident command, or even be set up for S.W.A.T. teams, and more. They are built to suit the demands of the purchasing city.


Aerial Truck with Basket

The Aerial trucks are the ones the crowds like to see in action. Small towns with no industrial plants or high rise apartment buildings would rarely, if ever, need one, but big cities often do. The price tag on a new, customized Aerial truck can reach a million dollars, and take over two months to construct, but even so, there is a waiting list at some truck companies of more than six months. While we were at the show, a similar big boy to the one in the photo was sold and paid for. The city had waited a while to get it into the town budget, and considered it a necessary tool for fighting industrial fires and below grade rescues, etc. in their miles long, multi-use municipality. The Aerial truck picture above shows a ladder that extends 100 feet when needed. Some extended ladders have baskets/boxes at the top end for the firefighter to stand in, but many do not.


When that ladder is extended, there are stabilizing ‘legs’ (outriggers) that pull out to keep the truck rock solid steady.


The Aerial trucks in this photo have their ladders extended the full length of their design – one reached 107 feet.


Rotary Lift

That’s a full-sized truck securely supported by this Rotary Lift. Before these came along, trucks had to be driven to the closest service area when needing to be worked on. It’s not like you can drive one of the trucks into your local car dealership or gas station, so the drive might have been 200 miles each way. Now, the Rotary Lift can be transported to the local fire station. Much easier, and most likely a faster turnaround for repair.


Tanker Truck









Sometimes, water is not available at the scene. There are trucks specially built for carrying thousands of gallons to areas with no central water supply.


ATVs are used in places that the big trucks can’t go. This one is used at area football games and can carry a Stokes style basket, as well as a hose (and liquid) to put out a small fire.


This 1905 Steamer is fully functional after having been restored in 2012. It cost $4,500. in 1905.


This year’s Fire Prevention Week messages apply all year round. 80%  of U.S. fire deaths happen at home each year, and the actual count had risen from previous years. With that in mind, most Fire Safety campaigns focus on home fire prevention:

  • Look for places fire can start
  • Listen for the sound of the smoke alarm
  • Learn two ways out of each room


Stay safe everyone!


*Photo credits above: taken by Patti Phillips at the 2018 Fire Rescue Expo, Raleigh, NC.


One of the Kerrian’s Notebook readers sent us this photo:

Courtesy of Ken Shoemaker:
“These firefighting vehicles are at the Cooksville Station of the Octavia Fire Protection District in Illinois. Our 1995 tanker pumper front mount pump on a Peterbilt chassis holds 3000 gallons with a front mount pump. It was the first 3000 gallon tanker pumper in central Illinois. We can put 6000 gallons of water on a structure before we drop a porra tank.”




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KN, p. 87 “How many bodies at the scene?”



(WARNING: Some photos may be disturbing to some viewers)


Not long ago, Sheila and I spent a pretty intense afternoon with a group of students and professionals doing a simulation of an explosion and its aftermath at a local campus. Here’s how it played out.

“You have reached 911. What’s the nature of your emergency?”


“A bomb just went off at the campus! There must be a dozen people hurt…there’s blood everywhere…”


Someone – a fellow student or perhaps a passing motorist – had called 911 and while sobbing or yelling the words into the phone, had begun the process to get help to the scene. The caller was kept on the phone in order to get any “who, what and where” details they might have known.


The 911 dispatcher made the appropriate call and told the First Responder, “There’s a possible explosion at the college. There may be multiple injuries.”


In general throughout the USA, the groups that respond will be from the Police/Sheriff, Fire, and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Departments in the area. The unit that responds first is the First Responder and it is their responsibility to secure the scene. When the Law Enforcement agency arrives, they will determine if they are looking at a crime scene or whether something has accidentally exploded. In both cases, a perimeter is established.


If it is a crime scene, then access inside the perimeter will be limited to essential personnel and a sign in/out log will be used. An officer will guard the access point as long as is needed. This insures that evidence can be preserved as much as possible and that curious onlookers will not get in the way of either treatment of the victims or investigation of the scene.


Multiple victims, multiple injuries, an explosion and several agencies involved? How do they keep from tripping over each other? How do they know what to do next?


Each of the groups has a Command person in charge of that group. In addition, an Incident Commander is in charge of the entire scene, coordinating the efforts of everybody concerned.




Victims are prioritized by type of wound, and then tagged with a card that identifies the level of injury, before they are eligible for transport. In general, the tag colors indicate:


*Black tags – not breathing

*Red tags – will die if not treated immediately, but still breathing on own

*Yellow tags – broken bones, but alert


The ones having sustained the most serious injuries and who have the greatest likelihood of survival, are treated and transported first by EMS Transport Command.

Other victims who have superficial cuts and abrasions are treated at the scene and released from care.


One of the simulation victims had a piece of glass ‘stuck’ in her arm as a result of being too close to windows that shattered during the explosion. The EMS gal treating her explained that the glass would keep the wound from bleeding until the victim reached the hospital. Basically, it was plugging the hole in her arm. If the police considered the glass a piece of evidence, it would be collected, bagged and tagged at the hospital. The piece of glass would only be removed at the scene if the patient could not breathe or if it got in the way of doing CPR. Since the glass was in her arm, it was left there and bandages were wrapped around it.


The Incident Commander explained that the first priority was the treatment of the patients and that all evidence on (or in) the victims would be collected later at the hospital. The EMS does not remove anything from the scene if they can help it.


The police began to take statements from the witnesses after treatment was in progress, but prioritized the questioning – least hurt, most alert, were questioned first. The EMS people are under HIIPA rules, so are not allowed to share any information they see or gather from the victims being treated. The police have to get that info on their own. At some point, the law enforcement officers would obtain an order for medical records of the person who caused the explosion.


Sadly, one of the victims ‘died’ during the simulation, as would happen in real life. This lady did not make it because her injuries were so severe. (only a simulation – that’s a great makeup job)

If all this were really happening, area airports and highways would be shut down until the threat level was determined. Was it an accident in a lab? Or was it a terrorist action? Unless the investigators get lucky and somebody confesses or does the ‘big reveal’ right at the scene, the truth is, that at an hour after the initial explosion, all that is known for sure is that lots of people have been hurt.


Sheila and I were impressed with how well the simulation went and how well organized it was. Great experience for us to see how a well-trained group can bring sanity to a potentially chaotic situation.




*Photos taken by Patti Phillips at a real simulation conducted in Guilford County, NC at the Writers’ Police Academy.

*Sheila and Charlie Kerrian are fictional characters, but the simulation actually took place.




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