Issue 5
August 2018
Houston Firefighters Honored by for Outstanding Work During Harvey

The Independent Insurance Agents of Houston (IIAH), announced that six Houston Firefighters who were deployed to Puerto Rico in response to Hurricane Irma as the 2017 “Firefighters of the Year” from four sets of nominations. The IIAH has worked in conjunction with HFD to recognize the commitment of firefighters and paramedics who have gone far above the call of duty when emergency situations arise. 

The Firefighters of The Year included: Captains Greg Armstrong and Todd Kahney, Engineer Operators Beau Moreno and Bill Hageman, Firefighters Kenneth Wright and Kevin Mathison.

Captain Armstrong, Engineer Operator Moreno and Firefighter Wright deployed to Puerto Rico in response to Hurricane Irma with the Federal Incident Support Team. These members assisted by helping organize the resources and supplies on hand, and start the daunting process of search and rescue for the Island. As the Island of Puerto Rico was shifting from rescue to recovery, Hurricane Maria popped up on the radar.  

Needing more resources, a Texas Task Force type 4 team was sent which included our members Captain Kahney, Engineer Operator Hageman, and Firefighter Mathison. These teams performed incredible rescues with very little equipment under unbelievable conditions.  

All the above members are assigned to Texas Task Force 1 based out of College Station. TXTF-1 is one of only 27 Urban Search and Rescue Teams in the United States. HFD currently sponsors 18 members.  

The other nominees who were also recognized during the luncheon included:

  • Captain Paramedic Nathan Lilley, Engineer Operator Brandon Hernandez, Firefighter Paramedics Michael DeLeon and Dustin Davis, and Firefighters Carlos Gallegos and Brian Dea who responded to a major house fire during the flooding of Hurricane Harvey. The Washington Post captured some of their efforts and how they improvised in the face of adversity to put the house fire out with the jet prop of a rescue boat. The family was saved and her cats rescued. The crew went above and beyond to mitigate this fire.

  • Firefighter Sergio Porrata who, without hesitation, stopped a man with a knife from stabbing a citizen, most likely saving the woman’s life.

  • Engineer Operator Wesley Pleasant and Firefighter Leonel Garcia’s commitment to safety and observation, warning police officers of an impending crash during a motor vehicle accident and treating the injured officer who had dropped 16 feet from the bridge.

On the Front line of PTSD

A video premiere was recently held for a documentary on PTSD among Houston Firefighters at the River Oaks Theater in Houston. The video, entitled "Operation Lifeline", is an extension of our ongoing efforts to prevent suicides in the Department and to reduce the effects of PTSD on our personnel. The video features members of the Department who have experienced traumatic events as the result of their work or due to combat experiences in the military. The video also showcases medical and psychological professionals within the Department who describe both the symptoms and causes of PTSD as well as how it can be successfully treated.  

 

The United States Fire Service recognizes that PTSD and suicidal behaviors are two of the greatest problems that firefighters face. According to USA Today each year more American firefighters die by their own hand than in the line-of-duty. In our Department, eight active firefighters have taken their lives since 2005. Major suicide prevention initiatives were conducted by HFD in 2008 and again in 2015. These included video presentations on how to recognize suicidal behavior among your peers and how to access mental health resources in the

Department.  

 

Published research based on surveys of our personnel show that PTSD and depression are the two issues that are the most related to suicidal ideation among our members. Our research shows that about 13% of our firefighters meet the diagnostic criteria for PTSD. This is similar to the rate of PTSD found among combat veterans. The Houston Fire Department is a national leader in addressing behavioral health problems among firefighters. In addition to the city's Employee Assistance Program counselors, we are one of only a couple of fire departments in the nation that employs full-time psychologists to assist our personnel . We currently have two staff psychologists, Dr. Sam Buser and Dr. Jana Tran, both of whom have extensive experience in treating PTSD, depression, and suicidal behavior. We are also the only fire department that trains mental health professionals in how to work with firefighters. Currently, we have 7 doctoral students in psychology from the University of Houston who work under the supervision of our psychologists and learn how to assist First Responders. In addition, the Department has more than 25 firefighters who serve as peer counselors to firefighters who have experienced traumatic events such as infant deaths or multiple fatalities.  

HFD Paramedic Assigned to Ambus During Harvey Gives a Look Inside 
Water Strike Team Tryouts

HFD recently conducted tryouts for its new Water Strike Team. Participants were required to perform certain skills during tryouts such as ; the front crawl stroke for  100  continuous  meters, breast stroke for  100  continuous  meters, and side stroke for  100  continuous  meters,  within  12  minutes total time. Applicants were also required to tread water for 2 continuous minutes with  chin above water line utilizing hands and legs. More than 250 candidates applied.  80 members were selected for the team.  

6th Annual Houston Firefighters and First Responders Appreciation Day

For the 6th year in a row Dave and Busters held an appreciation night for Houston Firefighters.  The Annual Houston Fire Department and First Responders Appreciation Day at Dave and Buster's was held at all 3 locations. 

It was their way of saying “Thank you” to Fire Fighters and First Responders along with their immediate families by offering a day of fun.  The day was filled with food, fun, and game play. There were also several amazing raffles from community donors.  Thank again to D&B for another successful event. 

Firefighter Sergio Porrata

Firefighter Sergio Porrata from 16D Shift has been received and been nominated for numerous awards for outstanding work. On the evening of July 13, 2017, HFD was dispatched to an unknown problem. Upon arrival, Engine 16 witnessed the ambulance in charge firefighter being charged by a shirtless man with a knife in hand.

 Out of sight and unable to determine if this firefighter was going to escape, a firefighter assist was immediately requested. It was at this time; a citizen was about to cross the street when the man with the knife turned his attention towards her and stated he was going to kill her. The man then began to cross the street behind the engine towards the citizen. As soon as the man walled past the rear of the engine, Firefighter Porrata grabbed an axe, ran towards the rear and around the engine and struct the mane with the handle side of the axe knocking the knife out of his and dropping him the ground, saving a woman’s life.The crew was able to detain the man until HPD arrived.

Shrink Rap

Mindfulness Made Easy

By Brooke King, M.Ed., HFD Psychology Intern

When you think of the word “mindfulness,” what image comes up? A Buddhist monk in meditation? A group of hippies waving crystals in a circle? Maybe the word reminds you of your neighbor, who likes to take her venti iced coffee with her to the natural organic grocery store? Mindfulness has gained a lot of popularity recently, in some ways good and in some ways bad. At times, it can seem like mindfulness is a hoax, or that only certain people are able to do it. What if I told you that you are probably already using mindfulness?

​When a call comes in at the station, you’re ready to go.  You put on your gear and get into action.  As you’re making a run, the other stuff in your life is on mute, and you’re able to focus intently on the task at hand. In fancy psychology terms, this is called a state of “flow,” which is the occupational version of mindfulness! Or, maybe this doesn’t describe your day-to-day. Your runs seem to blend together, and your 24-hour shift feels like working in a fog.

 You may have trouble staying connected in your work and/or personal life, or you have a hard time pulling yourself away from your smart phone. If this describes you, mindfulness could really help you out!

Some benefits of mindfulness include:

• Improving concentration

• Decreasing ruminative thinking (getting your mind off a “hamster wheel”)

• Decreasing stress

• Improving mood and well-being

Mindfulness is much easier than it looks – no expertise in Buddhism or psychology is required. Here are a few techniques you can try to start improving your mindfulness:

• Game of Threes: As you go through your day, try to notice three things that you typically don’t give attention to. For example, you could notice the tree outside your station window, the pictures surrounding the TV in the station living room, and the sweet smell of bacon coming from the kitchen.

• Unplugging: Set aside time each day away from electronics (like smart phones and TV). See what thoughts come up without these things distracting you. Start with 5-10 minutes – this task is harder than it looks! As you get better with unplugging, see how long you can go without checking your notifications.

• Be a Food Critic: When sitting down at a meal, pay close attention to the textures and flavors of what you’re eating, as if you were going to write a review about it.  Figure out your favorite part and give your compliments to the chef (but, maybe keep the least favorite part to yourself).

• Gratitude A to Z: When you have a break in your day or you’re lying down to sleep, take a few minutes to find things you’re grateful for by the letters in the alphabet.  Start with the letter A (e.g., “I’m grateful for my wife Allison”) and see how many you can come up with.

Using these techniques can be a simple way to incorporate more mindfulness in your life. You’re likely to find greater concentration and life satisfaction by using them. As you practice, it’s possible that you may not be able to be mindful because certain thoughts come up – thoughts about life or about calls you’ve made in the past. This is a pretty common when learning mindfulness, but if these thoughts continue to bug you, you have FREE counseling services available to you through HFD. You can give us a call at (281) 901-4341 (Dr. Jana Tran) or (281) 799-8032 (Dr. Sam Buser).

Brooke King is an HFD Psychology Intern working with Dr. Sam Buser and Dr. Jana Tran, HFD Staff Psychologists. Brooke is a doctoral student in the UH Counseling Psychology program.

A letter of Thanks

We wanted to THANK the firefighters who responded to the fire at one of the units at our townhome complex yesterday.  The family’s cat had smoke inhalation and they worked to resuscitate him for over an hour.  They contacted SPCA  and an emergency unit came and took the cat to an emergency vet.  Thank you Ladder 75, Station 78, and Station 86. I apologize but I didn’t get the station number for the ambulance and the other firetrucks. Thank you.

Cancer Prevention Efforts

The HFD Command Staff and Local 341’s Joint Labor Health and Safety Committee are working to improve the heath, safety, and wellness of Houston Firefighters. Cancer prevention is one of those initiatives. District Chief Chris Chavez, Josh Wells, and Doug Davis ascended to the task of considering best practices and how to implement them into HFD’s operation. Emergency Response recognizes districts 21, 26, and 28 as participating in a pilot program. These districts will report their findings to command staff and how to implement them into operations asa a standard. Other districts and stations may apply recommendations.  The pilot program will continue to October 31, 2018. 

Upcoming Exams

The Senior Captain Job Knowledge and Situational  Judgement written examination will be administered at 9 AM on Tuesday, August 28, 2018 at in RG center located at one in RG park Houston, TX 77054. 

The Captain job knowledge in situational judgment written examination‘s will be administered at 9 AM on Wednesday, August 29, 2018 at in RG center located at one in RG park Houston, TX 77054. 

Members are reminded that per city of Houston examination announcement candidates must apply for written examination‘s after completing the assessment center by logging onto www.governmentjobs.com/careers/Houston/promotional jobs. 

The online application will be available beginning Monday, August 6, 2018 online applications for written exam since we submitted no later than 4:30 PM Friday, August 17, 2018 for both ranks. 

 

The written examination process will consist of two separate components one component will be administered in the morning the second component will be administered in the afternoon doors will close promptly at 9 AM for the morning component there will be no late admission after the doors have closed registration will open at 8 AM at the testing site. 

HIPAA UPDATE

HIPAA Compliance Officer:

Kenneth W. Payne

Chief Communication 

Mission Statement

This monthly newsletter is to keep H.F.D. personnel informed of HIPAA news and regulations throughout the year in concomitance with the yearly Moodle class.

 

MESSAGE

Scenario:  An employee approaches his/her manager to request time        off.  He/she tells her manager about having a surgery, names the  specific chief complaint, and begins describing the procedure in  detail.

Scenario Response:  Since the information is not coming out from the health plan, this is not a HIPAA violation.  However, the manager should caution the employee to follow the city’s sick leave procedures with the appropriate physician’s excuse, and the employee does not need to go into his/her specific health condition in detail.

HFD Stats

Fire District Event Count for July 2018

F008 2648

F046 2615

F068 2149

F028 2048

F031 2020

F026 1986

F034 1605

F083 1518

F019 1426

F005 1306

F004 1302

F064 1287

F059 1248

F021 918

F045 918

F020 866

F070 836

F006 753

F078 692

F102 582

F071 491

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to submit a question to Fire Chief, to Sam Peña 

Chief's Corner
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