By Travis Dotson
This is a nightmare.
Your Engine Crew heads out on a normal PT hike which turns into a medical incident. That medical incident has all the common elements of an emergency situation, including communication struggles and delays. That medical incident ends with the death of your fellow crewmember.
This is a nightmare, but it’s not – it’s real.
The team who put this report together opens the report with these words:
While Bill Jaros always had a smile on his face, Bill’s coworkers and friends believed that it was important to inform the FLA Team that this crewmember was also going through significant personal challenges in his life. Due to these taxing circumstances in his personal life, Bill was experiencing a considerable amount of family and personal stress.
Once the FLA Team had interviewed Bill’s coworkers and learned about the difficulties that Bill was experiencing in his personal life, after much discussion, the FLA Team realized that this FLA needed to share and address—in a thoughtful and respectful manner—Bill’s psychological health. (Whether or not this contributed to his eventual medical incident during the PT hike that day is unknown.)
Bill’s family was briefed on this decision and they provided their support, as did Bill’s coworkers, for this FLA’s mental health focus.
That is why this FLA’s “Key Discussion Points” section concentrates on “Stress and Stress Management.” As is pointed out in this part of the FLA, it is critical for all wildland firefighters to be aware of the need to manage stress, both personal and professional. A series of discussion questions are provided here to help encourage discussion on this essential front. They include: “How are you managing your stress level?” and “Are you checking in with crewmembers who appear stressed?”
In addition, at this FLA’s conclusion we present a special section “Resources to Help Firefighters” that provides contact information on a variety of resources that are available to help provide mental health support to firefighters.
This FLA is respectfully dedicated to the memory of William “Bill” Jaros.
The Six Rivers PT Hike Fatality FLA Team
Please read this short report:
Six Rivers Physical Training Fatality
Please do one thing to better prepare for the nightmare, because it’s real.