Facilitators reference guide


PART A (At the point where the crew begins to hike from Stand 2 to Stand 3)



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PART A (At the point where the crew begins to hike from Stand 2 to Stand 3)
Facilitator Suggestions

While role playing may be desirable, be aware that we are not sure of things that were said or specific actions or behaviors that took place during this time among the actual Mann Gulch firefighters. Coach participants that you want them more to use their imaginations than to actually act out behaviors in the name of each person’s POI.


Inform the participant who was assigned Hellman as a POI that he/she is in charge of the crew and needs to move them quickly down canyon to access the heel of the fire from a safe approach.
Secretly coach a couple of crewmembers [Maybe hand them 3x5 cards with instructions] to stay at the back and have a difficult time keeping up or making sense of anything. They have two season’s previous experience on a Type II crew, but one of those seasons there weren’t many fires. This is their first fire this season.

Facilitator tells the assembled Staff Ride participants:


“Hellman” (POI), get the crew organized, lined out, and marching to the fire as if you mean business.”


  • Have the participants assigned as Dodge and Harrison follow the main group by some distance. Coach them to be ready for your cue to rejoin the group.

  • Set a fast pace, slightly uncomfortable, so that the participants perhaps become separated and will be breathing hard. However, don’t break their ankles, knees, etc.


PART B (At a point approximately 200 yards before Stand 3) (not important that these be exact locations)
Facilitator Suggestions

You may try to do this part on the move or you may need to briefly stop the participants

Orientation to Historical Event: While back at the cargo spot Dodge and Harrison saw the fire “boil up,” and determined to get the crew out of the canyon as soon as possible. They quickly moved down canyon, and tied back in with the crew around 5:40 PM. Dodge went to the head of the crew and sent Hellman to the rear to keep the men into a tight line. Dodge then hurried them down towards the river and safety.

Have the (POI) participant assigned as Dodge take over the leadership of the crew. Rapidly assign the Hellman POI to the rear to tighten up the formation while also speeding the crew down to the Missouri River and safety. Have the (POI) participant assigned as Harrison join in at the middle of the group. Keep the participants moving the whole time.



PART C (Immediately upon arrival at Stand 3)

The turnaround point is simply a sudden audit of where people are emotionally, and an opportunity to address some of the Strategic Discussion Points, especially the Recurring Question. This is meant to be a short stand with big impact, and to show how much their options had narrowed by this time.


Facilitator Suggestions

When facilitator reaches Stand 3 (took historical smokejumpers about five minutes, and hopefully some people will be breathing hard) she/he stops suddenly and talks to whoever else has ended up at the front of the group. The facilitator says:




  • “You have just seen this [show TDG Photo of spot fire below, found in the Facilitators Support tab] on your side of the gulch 150-200 yards below and slightly down canyon from you. The fire is blowing up, burning at 10 mph toward you in light grass, brush, and through the stringers of trees. Act now!”




  • Feel free to select a different photo of your own to represent the spot fire that cut off Wag Dodge and his men from the river below. Suggest laminating an 8x11 color photo.

Allow the situation to develop. Each group will handle things in different ways. Allow them to take the actions they see fit, so long as they stay safe. Stop the TDG within two minutes and gather the participants. At this point, solicit gut level responses from the participants (those witnessing the spot fires below them, and those who didn’t see the fire and only witnessed the reactions of the crewmember ahead of them). How did they each react, based on their assumptions?

Be aware… some participants may make a run for it, and you’ll want to have a plan for not letting them get so far, as to not be able to rally them all back to the Stand 3 location for discussion following a couple minutes of reaction.
You may choose to do this part in the format of a “chainsaw style” After Action Review, by asking participants to:



  • “Give me one word about how you felt at a gut level when you crested the hill and saw the fire situation below you or realized your other crew members were reacting to an emergency situation. What do think your POI may have been feeling at this point? “


Facilitator Suggestion

  • To eliminate confusion… You have just completed TDG #2… and are now about to begin Stand 3. TDG #2 will link to Stand 3 closely.

Stand 3 – Crew Turnaround Point
Facilitator Suggestions
If doing Tactical Decision Game #2, Part C, it is linked closely with Stand 3. It will be important to understand the sequence of events BEFORE facilitating this part of the staff ride.
Support Material

  • Collection of Stand Support Photos – Stand 3

  • TDG #2 Photo – Spot fire below, cutting off access to the river

  • Maps


Access

Stand 3 WGS84 Datum GPS Coordinates: N 46*52.983’ W 111*54.142’

From Stand 2 hike a half mile southwest, contouring along, slightly up the slope. Stand 3 takes place about mid slope on a small spur ridge.


Terrain Orientation

Main Fire (south across drainage, top of ridge dividing Mann Gulch and Meriwether Canyon)

Spot Fire (north side of drainage, and below and slightly down canyon of crew)

Steepness of Slope up to Ridge (north side of the canyon)



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Facilitator Suggestions
Suggested Person of Interest: William “Bill” Hellman

Background Information

  • Remember the historical fuels discussion from Stand 2. In 1949 this slope had quite a few stringers of fairly dense timber, with generally continuous timber along the lower third of the canyon. [See Stand Support Photos]




  • Fire activity across the canyon at the top of the ridge had picked up considerably.




  • When hiking down canyon from the briefing point the crew had become split up into two or more smaller groups, causing some confusion and shouting.




  • While at the cargo spot Dodge and Harrison saw the fire “boil up,” and determined to get the crew out of the canyon as soon as possible. They quickly moved down canyon, and tied back in with the crew around 5:40 PM. At this point Dodge appeared “worried about the fire and our safety” (Sallee). He went to the head of the crew and tried to hurry them down to the river.




  • Within five minutes of taking the lead, Dodge saw there was fire on their side of the gulch and was coming up the slope towards the crew. For some at the rear of the crew, this turnaround was the first indication that the fire might endanger them. Flames were still not visible from the rear, but the smoke and noise had become significant.




  • Even after turning around and heading away from the potential threat below, the fire blowing up across the canyon still drew some of the firefighters’ attention away from the immediate situation. At this point Navon and another jumper were taking pictures of the main fire.



Stand 3 Strategic Discussion Points
Recurring Questions

  • In the historical situation what conditions at this point were in the firefighters’ control and what conditions were outside their control?

  • Given the circumstances at the time, were their actions reasonable? Why or why not?

  • Today, given current technology and standard operating principles and procedures, how might you handle the very same situation?

Situational Awareness



  • How did the attention grabbing blowup across the canyon affect the firefighters’ situational awareness?

Leadership, Split Second Decision Making, Communication



  • What effect might the changing leadership in this stressful situation have had on the crewmembers?

  • How do you achieve a balance of quality vs. speed in emergency briefings?

  • How do the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on current crews handle this type of situation?


Stand 3A – Tool Drop
Support Material

  • Collection of Support Photos – Stand 3A

  • Maps

  • Mann Gulch: A Race That Couldn’t Be Won, by Richard Rothermel – Can be accessed on the Mann Gulch Staff Ride website – Information Sources tab


Access

Stand 3A WGS84 Datum GPS Coordinates: N 46*53.097’ W 111*54.013’

From Stand 3, cut back to the northeast approximately 500 yards heading towards the ridge line. Stand 3A takes place on a slight bench on the upper third of the slope (south aspect).


Terrain Orientation

Steep ridge and occasional visible rock outcrops to the north of the escape path.

Rock slides between Stands 3 and 3A.

Location of fire behind & below crew.




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Background Information

  • Remember the vegetation difference between 1949 and now, especially the relative locations of timber and grass. Notice in the historical photo of the Tool Drop site that there are dense stands of Ponderosa pine to the north and east, which the firefighters still had to escape through. The timber did become thinner as they traveled further upslope and up canyon.




  • This is the point at which Rumsey recalled Dodge saying something about “getting out of this firetrap.” At about 5:53 PM Dodge ordered the men to drop their packs to speed their escape.




  • The fire was about 100 yards behind the crew, and seemed to be getting ahead of them both above and below on the slope. The fire is estimated to have been spreading at just less than 100 yards per minute.




  • As the timber thinned, the fuels became flashier, and the winds pushed the fire to spread even faster, up to an estimated 600 feet per minute. (see Rothermel's Mann Gulch: A Race That Couldn't Be Won)



Facilitator Suggestions
Pay attention to the safety of your group on this steep terrain. Reference the Risk Analysis.

This may be a stand that can provide an opportunity to move along a little more if little discussion is generated. Stand 4 will involve some action and discussion, and Stands 5 and 6 may have more in depth discussion.



Stand 3A Strategic Discussion Points

Recurring Questions



  • In the historical situation what conditions at this point were in the firefighters’ control and what conditions were outside their control?

  • Given the circumstances at the time, were their actions reasonable? Why or why not?

  • Today, given current technology and standard operating principles and procedures, how might you handle the very same situation?

Human Factors



  • What could be the psychological effect of dropping your tools? (feelings of ceding defeat, admitting loss of control, etc.)


Stand 4 – Dodge’s Escape Fire
Support Material

  • Collection of Stand Support Photos – Stand 4

  • Maps

  • Photo of fire front, similar to what may have been closing in behind crew – Facilitator Support tab


Access

Stand 4 WGS84 Datum GPS Coordinates: N 46*53.204 W 111*532.921

From Stand 3 hike approximately 0.4 miles to the northeast gaining approximately 400 feet in elevation. The hike is across open terrain with poor footing. No developed trail system is currently in place. Participants will cross a couple rock slide areas before reaching Stand 4.


Terrain Orientation

Approximate Escape Fire Location – Wooden Marker NOTE: May be difficult to find

North Side of Mann Gulch
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Facilitator Suggestions
Suggested Person of Interest: R. Wagner “Wag” Dodge, Smokejumper Foreman

Share Sample Photo: fire front, similar to what may have been closing in behind crew – Facilitator Support tab, and discuss what it may have been like to look back and see a fire front similar to this one approaching… knowing you’re running out of time.

CRITICAL: following the discussions that take place here regarding the escape fire… it may be desirable to allow participants to make their own way to the ridge top for Stand 5, in whichever way they see fit. They will know the outcome, but may desire to know how it felt to attempt escape under the real terrain. PROVIDE A TIME TO MEET AT RIDGE TOP… and cut them loose.
Background Information


  • Dodge’s elbow and side were banged up some from his hard jump landing. Remember that, other than Harrison, Dodge had done the most traversing up and down Mann Gulch to this point.




  • Dodge was 33 years old. At the time of Mann Gulch he had 9 seasons of general Forest Service work with 8 of those was as a smoke jumper.




  • This is the area where Wag Dodge lit his escape fire at approximately 5:55 PM with a book of paper gopher matches. The term “gopher” refers to book matches: as soon as you light one, then it’s time to go-fer another one because they go out so easy.




  • When Dodge lit the escape fire no fewer than eight members of the crew were close to him. Dodge thought he tried to explain to the crew what he was doing and why he wanted them to follow him into the black. Dodge intended to wait a few seconds to let his fire burn down before entering it. About 100 square feet had burned when a crewmember said: “To hell with this, I am getting out of here,” and everyone except Dodge continued up the Gulch. Dodge kept trying to convince the others as they passed him to get into the ashes with him, but no crew members followed him. This sequence took seconds to occur.




  • The rookie smokejumpers had gone through weeks of intensive conditioning during training, and had been working in the field ever since. They reached speeds estimated at 4 to 6 mph on these steep slopes, an incredible effort.


Stand 4 Strategic Discussion Points
Recurring Questions

In the historical situation what conditions at this point were the smokejumpers’ in control of, and what conditions were outside their control?

Given the circumstances at the time, were their actions reasonable? Why or why not?

Today, given current technology and standard operating principles and procedures, how might you handle the very same situation?


Human Factors, Leadership

At what point in a dangerous situation is there a breakdown of cohesion? What does trust have to do with it?

At some point is each individual justified in seeking out what they believe to be their own best path to safety?
What might Dodge have done in that critical moment to get people to follow him?

Why might they not have? How did the crew end up on this situation?

When we select our leaders now, do we assess leadership qualities as well as

technical competence? How do we get better at hiring those who can be leaders, and training them to be even stronger leaders?


Innovation

Are there cultural and/or organizational barriers to creative innovation as wildland

firefighters, or do we nurture such qualities in individuals and/or groups?
Physical Fitness

Notice the deceptively difficult terrain and the effect of steep ridge and rock outcrops to the north of the escape route. Did you walk along the same path the jumpers took?

How important is physical fitness in a firefighters overall safety plan? Is it fair for one unfit individual to risk the safety of the others?


Stand 5 – Ridge Top & Rescue

Support Material


  • Collection of Stand Support Photos – Stand 5

  • Maps

  • TDG #3

  • TDG #4

  • Letter from Jansson to Harrison Family – Facilitator Support tab

  • Special Note: If for time’s sake, you are combining Stands 5 and 6 into the ridge top location, see also support materials for Stand 6


Access

Stand 5 WGS84 Datum GPS Coordinates: N 46*53.256’ W111*53.937’

From Stand 4 either walk as a group - nearly straight up - to the rimrock ledge, and pass through the rimrock crevice where Sallee and Rumsey did to the ridgetop, or - if it fits your objectives - give people some time to go by whatever route and speed they want to (mimicking how the smokejumpers got scattered), and meet at the top. Stand 5 is at the ridge top separating Mann Gulch from Rescue Gulch, where there is a flat area large enough to for a group to sit or stand.



Terrain Orientation

Escape Route of Rumsey and Sallee

Space in the rimorock that Rumsey and Sallee passed through to safety.

Rockslide where Rumsey and Sallee hunkered to survive the fire on backside of ridge.

Hellman’s Rockslide

Rescue Gulch

Firefighter Monument Locations

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Facilitator Suggestions
Suggested Person of Interest: Robert Sallee or Walter Rumsey

Time management will have really paid off here if done well. You should be aware that there are two separate TDG’s (TDG’s #3 and #4) that can be performed simultaneously. See additional Facilitator Suggestions Below for details.



If possible, following TDG’s, allow enough time for participants to take the time to visit markers (particularly for their POI) enroute to Stand 6.
Background Information


  • Jumpers Sallee, Rumsey and Diettert hurried up the east edge of Dodge’s escape fire - focused on getting to the rocks they could see on the ridgetop. Dodge’s fire was now putting up two to three foot high flames and moving quickly upwards. At that time Sallee thought perhaps Dodge meant them to use his fire as a kind of a buffer to help them make it to the top. They came to the rocks they had seen, only to discover that it was a rimrock cliff, and not the true ridge top. After a frantic search Sallee and Rumsey found a crevice to squeeze through. Diettert had been just behind them until the rimrock, where he turned east and continued below the ledge.




  • While Sallee waited for Rumsey to climb through he glanced back downhill to see Dodge jump over the burning edge of his fire and saw him shouting and waving his arms for the remaining men to join him. Only then did Sallee realize that Dodge had intended for them to get inside his fire area to ride out the main fire. He assumed that the rest of the crew would do just that, and be okay.




  • The main fire took about five minutes to pass over Dodge there in his escape fire and when he sat back up his watch read 6:10.




  • Rumsey and Sallee ran sidehill into a rockslide on the backside of the ridge where they were able to survive when the main fire made runs around them.




  • After the blowup had subsided Rumsey and Sallee found Hellman, badly burned, but alive. He had never been with them, so he must have come to the top of the ridge by a different route. They laid him on a rock to keep his burned skin out of the ashes.




  • Wag Dodge joined Rumsey and Sallee and reported he had found Sylvia alive, but badly burned, and had moved him under the shelter of a big rock.




  • Dodge and Sallee proceeded to look around for other survivors, but found no one else. Finally, they headed down Rescue Gulch to the Missouri River to find help while Rumsey stayed with Hellman.


  • A rescue crew arrived on the scene at 12:30 AM on August 6th. At 1:30 AM, the rescue crew found Sylvia and Hellman. The two injured men were evacuated at 5:00 AM, but both died in a Helena hospital later in the morning. Before the day was over all the bodies of those who died were found within 300 yards of each other.




  • This rescue effort was among the first uses of a helicopter in Region One. Dodge knew something about the capability of the “egg beater,” and ordered it with the necessary supplies to come help. He and a doctor were transported to the ridgetop that way.




  • During the blow up stage, the Mann Gulch fire covered an estimated 3,000 acres in 10 minutes and eventually burned 4,3000 acres. 611 firefighters helped bring the fire under control.


Facilitator Suggestions
Optional Tactical Decision Game #3 (recommended for crew level participants) or #4 (recommended for fire managers) is to be done here at Stand 5, when you are ready to do it, and not before. Read the scenario out loud to the group; then give them the two minutes to write some notes about what they think and want to do. The goal in both these TDG’s is for participants to have to wrestle with some of the tension associated with a rescue mission involving possible or sure fatalities; where strong, moral leadership is needed, and there are no easy answers.


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