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Mayday: Train to Use the Portable Radio Emergency Alert Button

Posted: Nov. 10, 2022

NIOSH safety advisory stresses importance of understanding and training on the portable radio emergency alert button during a Mayday.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently released a safety advisory on the importance of understanding and training on the portable radio emergency alert button (EAB) during a Mayday PDF that every firefighter should read. The advisory was prompted by several incidents investigated by NIOSH’s Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program where a firefighter Mayday was called, the EAB was not used, and the incident led to a line-of-duty death (LODD).

An essential life safety device that must be properly used in a Mayday situation, the EAB on fire service portable radios can be activated to give the firefighter priority and uninterrupted transmission capability. Firefighters should regularly train on Mayday procedures so that they know how to:

  • Recognize when they need help during an incident.
  • Call for help using their department's communications equipment.
  • Initiate self-rescue procedures.

At this time, there are no national Mayday standards for firefighters to be trained to and most states do not have Mayday standards. It is up to each authority having jurisdiction to develop rules and performance standards for a firefighter to call a Mayday.

Available training and guidance to help fire departments develop and teach Mayday procedures includes:

  • The U.S. Fire Administration's National Fire Academy self-study course, Firefighter Safety: Calling the Mayday (Q0133), provides specific parameters for when a firefighter must call a Mayday.
  • Project Mayday provides an exhaustive list of Mayday scenarios and the kinds of training that should be conducted to prepare for each in its 2021 Annual Project Mayday General Report. Included are problems related to air supply, falling through a roof or floor, becoming trapped or unable to move, explosions, no communications, and more.

This article is based on content in the
Nov. 10, 2022 InfoGram.

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