A Fire Service Guide to Preparing for a Line-of-Duty Death
A fire department does not know when it will have a line-of-duty death or serious injury. Does it have a plan in place? Are personnel records current? Does the department know how to make timely and proper notification to the survivors? Fire chiefs and survivors tell us that most fire departments are not prepared for a line-of-duty death. Taking Care of Our Own® provides fire department personnel specific information and valuable insights.
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In Module One participants assess their own views and attitudes on key points that the training will cover. Throughout the training, the participants can compare these with some of the principles and procedures being suggested. The first module concludes with first-hand experiences of a chief and a family member whose stories set the stage for the rest of the day.1
Module Two focuses on the importance of pre-incident planning. It covers: 1) putting together a pre-incident plan for line-of-duty deaths and serious injuries; and 2) maintaining up-to-date employee emergency contact information. Class participants discuss ways to support the family immediately after the death, during the funeral planning and service, and long term.2
Module Three deals with notification of the survivors. It discusses the five basic principles of notification and lets the participants suggest ways to handle difficult situations.3
Module Four covers benefits that may be available to survivors, including the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits and State and local support.4
Module Five presents the basic concepts associated with grief and mourning and explores the challenges of dealing with sudden death. It ends by asking the participants to reframe inappropriate statements commonly made to persons who are grieving.5
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To measure the effectiveness of Taking Care of Our Own®, the Foundation sends participants a questionnaire six months after completion of the course. We ask participants what actions they have taken as a result of the course, to provide suggestions, and to share any procedures or plans developed as a result of the program.
Fire officers, firefighters, chaplains, and other personnel told us they have taken the following actions as a result of the training program: