Austin Police, Fire officials help Iraqis aim for better public services
October 26, 2006
BAGHDAD - Three representatives from police and fire departments in Austin, Texas, met with Iraqi emergency services officials Oct. 18 to discuss ways to improve existing Iraqi emergency medical systems here.
David Carter, Austin Police Special Operations, Charles Johnson, Austin Special Weapons and Tactics Unit, and George Bratmore, assistant chief, Austin Fire Department, working with Multi-National Division - Baghdad, hope to establish a new and reliable Iraqi emergency service system over the next year.
The group aims to eventually establish a system enabling police, fire and medical units to work together during emergencies requiring the assistance of all three services, similar to the United States, said Bratmore, during a presentation to Iraqi officials.
"In many cases, when something happens that requires the fire departments service, medical units and police units are also required to be on the scene," the fire chief explained.
"When all the services respond on a particular incident, it gives us the ability to contain the situation quickly, and it ensures that the effect of the emergency doesn't spread and cause more problems," Bratmore said.
During an emergency in the United States, it is common to see police cars, fire trucks and medical vehicles on the site at the same time. Additionally all three services can be contacted using one phone number, 911, said Carter.
Currently, the Iraqi Police, fire and medical services do not work jointly in day-to-day operations. All three services must be contacted individually in order for them to respond to an accident or incident.
The new concept introduced to the Iraqi public services officials also aims to create an emergency system similar to the 911 system.
Carter said he and his team hope to initiate new ideas to institute a new Iraqi Joint Department of Public Safety, but said the process will take time.
"The way the Iraqi public services are run today can't be changed over night," he said. "This is going to take time, and it is up to the Iraqi government to recognize whether or not this kind of system will work for them.
"We want to help the best way we can, and at the same time use this as a learning experience to maybe help improve our own system back in the United States."