Comment Cards.

During my last tour of duty, I came across a most unusual new practice. I was instructed to present a comment card to all patients whom we encounter in the performance of our duty. Yes, that's right, a comment card—the likes of which I had only seen at my favorite 24-hour breakfast joint.

Sure, we have an ongoing struggle regarding our shift schedule. Our repair shop is "understaffed and overworked," threatening our citizens with the possibility that there may not be enough serviceable apparatus to adequately cover the city's ever-growing number of emergencies. Oh, and morale is circling the bowl, one flush away from joining the cesspool.

But the most important thing we need know is: how were the pancakes?

So here's the obverse and reverse of the card. Upon first inspection, I already have qualms about this piece of self-righteous cardstock (remember, even in bulk quantity: add the cost of the stamp to the cost of printing and cutting thousands of these). Seriously, could we have picked a more efFEMinate stamp? Purple, swirly Foxglove flowers on a cream/off-white background. Interestingly enough, the Latin name for the Foxglove species, digitalis purpurea, is named because of the plant's intensely colored flowers that are able to fit snugly over a finger-shaped object (one of your "digits," as it were)… not unlike a condom.

Additionally, there is a class of medication extracted from the Foxglove plant whose purest form is called digitalis, which is a cardiac drug used to treat various abnormal heart rhythms. I find it just so poetic that the medication (also called digitoxin) can be lethal if the patient is given too much. Toxicity can result in headaches, vomiting, jaundice, blurred vision, delirium, convulsions, and wild hallucinations. Certain species of this very plant are actually so toxic that they've earned the name "Dead Mens' Bells."

Another note: these cards are addressed to the chief himself—as if he'll be reading a Santa-Clause-worthy bag of mail, stuffed to the brim with these cards. Technically, they should be returned to the "Public Information and Community Affairs Office," a branch of FEMS tasked with "disseminating information to the public on Departmental programs and services, conducting community outreach and fire safety education programs and ensuring high quality customer service."

But, given what happened to our Public Information Officer, I guess they're a little short-staffed at the moment. Thanks for stepping up and helping out, Chief! (Table 38's Rooty Tooty Fresh 'N Fruity® is ready for pickup, by the way.)

In an effort to do my part, I would like to suggest a new comment card. Sure, we can keep the old one, since it's geared primarily towards medical calls. However, we are still a functioning fire department with a rich and storied history; I think it only fair in this most progressive day and age that we offer a comment card for our fire suppression services.

Fair citizens, I entreat you to please take a moment and assist us in bettering our Department (click to enlarge it, if you'd like).


  • No11Truck says:

    There is no address, call number, time of day, anything.. These cards are useless… No proof of a resident having filled them out, what company was there, who the crew was or what shift..

    • raisingladders says:

      Absolutely true. It makes any collected data pretty meaningless. And even if they are returned, I'd like to know what (if anything) is to be done with this information? Since there's no identifiers, what would happen if someone returned an extremely negative card? Or an extremely positive one? Is there some reformative action that's supposed to happen to the nameless, faceless providers who encountered this particular patient?

  • Bill Carey says:

    Nice work. Any idea if a farewell dinner is in the works for you on the next shift?

    Bill Carey

  • Fern says:

    You know, I'm not opposed to comment cards, but only if they're set up right. That card is nowhere close to set up right. Like the first commenter said, no call number, time of day, or anything that can tie that card to a call.
    I know that there's a EMS agency in the Houston area that has the cajones to give every patient a comment card (by their EMS provider in the back), but just mailing these out after a call at XYZ location., that sucks.
    Good luck down there DCFD, what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.

    • raisingladders says:

      Oh, these cards just like the ones from Houston. We are to give them to patients during or shortly after transport to the hospital, or on-scene if we obtain a refusal. The stamp/address are so the patient can then return the card to us at no cost after they fill it out.

  • Seavo says:

    I wonder what line item in the FEMS budget he justified this wonderful concept, austerity be damned!. I thought the self-risen messiah had changed his position to "Administrator" Why dont we just start cow towing and call him Prophet.
    Ill bring you a moons over my hammy next time im sent to your side of the city.

  • Michael Brown says:

    The administrations of the major metropolitan fire departments need to stop drinking the Brunicini Kool aid! The fire and EMS services are NOT customer based. There are inherent needs for a well staffed and well trained department. The old line “the customer is always right” does not apply to us. We are governed by laws, protocols and standards. What’s next? Please put my house fire out but don’t drag your dirty hoses through my house, or cut a hole in my roof, or break glass. Please save me from my heart atttack but I don’t like needles. The current batch of up and coming administrators are completely focused on all the wrong stratagies. We have the most dedicated memberships of ANY profession. They need support from above. I.e. good training, appropriate and functioning apparatus and equipment and promises kept. We like police and military risk so much for so little pay and all we ask is to be allowed to do our jobs, but the new breed of chiefs have twisted out occupation into a socialist program.

    • raisingladders says:

      I agree. I have worked both as a waiter and in retail before I came on the job, and I firmly believe that while that old “customer is always right” adage *does* apply in those situations, those occupations/industries are nothing like our own. It’s a whole different animal, requiring a different approach to almost every facet.

  • Scottytheaardvark says:

    Just when I thought things in DC ( our Nation's capitol, none-the-less) couldn't get any MORE ridiculous, these cards surfaced. Un-F'in-believable. Keep your heads up DC brothers and sister FF's, for the most part, the general public depends on us, no matter how F'd up the "leaders" are.

    • raisingladders says:

      Thanks for the support, brother. It’s just become a little bit harder to keep the faith, but no worries—we’ll get through it, I’m sure.

  • The idea of asking your "customers" for input is a great one. I worked for an EMS agency in South Jersey that did that, and I think we really changed the way we communicated with those we served. However, seeing what DCFD (To Hell with the FEMS BS!) is going through, there are a LOT more things that can and should be worked on. Further, wasting money on heavy duty card stock, printing, and a stamp is asinine. A simple business card, with a spot for call #, date, and contact info is perfect. Saves money, and is easy to carry.
    Best wishes to my DCFD  Brothers. FTM-PTB-KTF.

    • raisingladders says:

      Even in this day and age, it's surprising that anyone would even consider a physical comment card. A quick bit of research reveals that even a town like Meridian, ID (population approximately 75,000), or Kirkwood, MO (population approximately 27,500) have easy-to-use and well-designed avenues for citizens to provide feedback via their respective county/state governmental websites specifically for fire department services. Am I to believe that our nation's capital, with a resident population of almost 620,000 (over a million during a standard work week!) can't offer anything better than a flimsy card?
      Thanks for the support and well wishes.

  • It's funny!  I'm a customer feedback expert and I think you got it right! 
    My two favorite points are the waste of money from wasted stamps!  Think about the cards that are left and never mailed.  I know the USPS is losing money and they need help too.
    The other is the Chief is going to read them.  My guess is no tabulation will ever be done becuase that requires time and money.
    Customer feedback is a great tool for improvement!  But there is a much better way…
    As a matter of fact we do it for FREE.  
    Check it out!

  • Jacob says:

    Here in the suburbs we used to mail a comment card and request for donation after calls. It was a good source of income and useful feedback for many years, until the county computerized the run reports and we no longer had access to the data to do the mailings.  No fussing with handing people cards in the back of units, and we were able to match and respond to the occasional negative response.  

  • J. Collins says:

    Honestly, who cares?  If the customer is so offended by response times/uniform appearance/attitude they can call and complain.  We in Fire/EMS are here to do one job.  Make sure you live to see tomorrow.  I know this isn't the best attitude I have but it's just my opinion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *