Training >> Browse Articles >> Kitchen Table Debriefs


The Kitchen Table Debrief – MAYDAY! The Goodness Spec

The Kitchen Table Debrief – MAYDAY! The Goodness Spec

To our disservice, there is still a strong feeling of NIH and “Why should we share what we’ve accomplished, with you? We have spent a lot of man-hours developing our SOPs, we aren’t going to just GIVE then to you!” Or worse, “We don’t care what you have done. We worked on our own set and they are good enough for us!” This is crazy. If our Brothers on the EMS side felt that way, we would all be doing CPR differently from each other.

Our Department’s MAYDAY SOP is heavily based on the Hackensack, NJ Fire Department MAYDAY SOP that I found posted on the Internet. I swiped it, then slightly modified it after I attended a recent RIT/FAST training session presented by the RI Fire Academy.

My management style includes “creative swiping”. If I see a Department that is doing something that gets better results than what I’m doing, I “swipe” their idea and try to figure out how to apply it to what I’m doing. The other side of that is that I have no problem with other Departments “swiping” our ideas and documents.

Life is too short for all of us to individually recreate the wheel… I am including our MAYDAY SOP with this article and invite anyone who likes it, to “swipe” it! Take it, modify it, or leave it as it is, but “own” it. Make it your own. Feel free to give me feedback if you think it can be made better!

5. We allow SOPs to all be “one-pagers”

I am impressed by the mission statement of Chief Alan Brunacini (Phoenix, AZ Fire Department) “Survive, prevent harm & be friendly.”

Emperor Joseph II once said of Mozart’s work: “It’s quality work. And there are simply too many notes, that’s all.”

It is great and noble to have a short underlying, guiding principle of: “Do the right thing” (like a former employer of mine), but you still need the three ring binder with the specifics detailing the protocols, policies, procedures, and guidelines to give people some guidance on how to “do the right thing.”

I sent out our “MAYDAY” SOP to the companies we have mutual aid agreements with. One of the chief-level officers from a neighboring Fire District sent me a one-line response stating:


Well… it needs to be long enough to accomplish its task.

I have no doubt that some SOPs can accomplish their tasks in a page or less, but a document outlining the guidelines for something like RIT, or a MAYDAY needs to be long enough to specify the appropriate guidelines.

In the case of our MAYDAY SOP, it includes the guidelines for: the Incident Commander, the RIT/FAST Team, the Firefighter activating the MAYDAY, and the other On-Scene Firefighters. It is too important to be a “one-pager”.