Sunday, October 14, 2012

Chicago Fire: "Pilot"

Or as I like to call the series Backdraft Lite.

I knew this show couldn't possibly compare to Denis Leary's masterpiece Rescue Me, which ended last fall. I was wary of the previews, a scene in which blatantly rips off one of my all-time favorite movie moments: the "You go, we go" scene from Backdraft. But I had I high hopes for Chicago Fire, helmed by Dick Wolf, creator of Law & Order and its spin-offs Special Victims Unit and Criminal Intent. It took roughly 10 minutes for Chicago Fire to ruin my hopes. Why?

  • The opening scene of the episode is almost identical to the beginning of Backdraft with two minor exceptions. 1) Both firefighters trapped in the building die as opposed to Axe surviving. 2) A firefighter's youngest son does not witness his father's tragic death and wind up on the cover of Time magazine.
  • The crew operates out of Firehouse 51, the same house designation that was used way back in the '70s for the show Emergency! Did Dick really think nobody would notice that?
  • How unprofessionally the firefighters behaved during their station tour for an elementary school class. Guarantee these kids won't wanna grow up to be firefighters.
And these are just the general things that annoyed me. I'm friends with a lot of firefighters and EMS personnel. I've had some firefighter training myself and I'm a licensed EMT, so I noticed a few things that other people might not.
  • Where on God's green earth did the props department find masks that old? Long glass in the front, "elephant trunk" style hose...Oh wait, I know, probably leftover from, you guessed it, Backdraft. The most laughable part is that they were hooked up to NEW model Scott Paks. Most likely, the hoses would be incompatible.
  • This also goes back to the equipment issue. This show is set within the CHICAGO Fire Department. Even the most underfunded volunteer departments in small-town Kentucky have late-model Scott Paks and masks. (It's actually required by law in order to run calls, but I digress).
  • The female paramedics wore their hair down with just their Chicago FD jackets and matching T-shirts (which fit more like baby-doll shirts). Even in my mid-size college town in Kentucky, our county EMS requires everyone to wear uniform shirts. And it's general practice in most lines of work that if a girl's hair is past her collar, she has to wear it up.
  • More on the humorous side, every EMT or paramedic I've ever known keeps a stethoscope handy around their neck. These women did not.
  • This one was the last straw for me. The female medics, both department veterans, respond to a shooting and Chicago PD is already on the scene. They tell the police officer to leave the apartment so they can treat the patient. No one knows where the shooter is but the cop leaves anyway. Guess what? The gunman pops out of the closet, holds the medics at gunpoint, and threatens them. The medics now have negotiate themselves out of the situation.
I know it makes for good drama, but drama should have a hint of realism. Let me tell ya, something like what I described would NEVER happen these days. The number one thing they preached in my EMT class and continue to in my paramedic school classes is scene safety.

The police should (and in most cases must) clear the scene of a violent incident before EMS personnel are allowed inside. In my state, this became standard practice after a very tragic and very public incident where a female paramedic was killed in the line of duty while responding to a shooting. The police officer certainly would not leave the room while the shooting victim was treated in case he got violent.

I don't plan on finishing the episode or watching another one. If I was Ron Howard, I would sue for copyright infringement. If I were a representative for Scott Paks or American Lion turnout gear, I'd reconsider their current product placement.

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