The best training come from experience. Experiences in the fire service need to be shared from one fireman to another. The only thing better than receiving this shared knowledge is to experience the basis for it first hand. As my department’s current training officer, I’m responsible for making sure that everyone gets the appropriate training they need. In the case of this evening, that’d be some SCBA familiarization and “confidence” training. It is rare in the academies that my department’s personnel go to, to experience a sucking face mask from running out of air, let alone what it’s like for the vibralert to go off. I do not condone spending so much time in an IDLH environment that you run out of air, but you need to know what it’s like so you can train on what your actions will be before you run out.
This evening I took 2 of our younger guys who know the basics about the air packs, but don’t have any real experience in their use, and I got them just that… some experience. We started off with “2-minute” drills where they are supposed to put on all their gear (and SCBA) properly in 2 minutes or less. These drills help get the mind set of putting the gear on fast, and right the first time. Unfortunately, even though they both were familiar with their gear, they couldn’t hit the 2 minute benchmark. Since they were geared up, I figured now would be a good time for them to gain experience using the SCBA while “in motion”. We have a fairly sizeable parking lot here, so I was able to set them out (as a team) and walk/jog around the lot. They had a few questions, like how to hook up the EBBS and how that part of the system worked. So, myself and the Lieutenant showed them and explained it to them. Since the question was raised, they got to see what it was like to “share” a bottle. They were impressed by the amount of time they were able to continue jogging and still have air.
They were both eager to learn and were actually disappointed when the bottle went dry and they had to stop. They both have potential. They just need to stay focused. Now that all the equipment has been placed back in service, and we haven’t had a run since early this afternoon when our part-time medic crew was on, it’s time to wind down so I can get ready for a long day ahead of me, 24 more hours (7am – 7am) of providing Fire and Rescue (EMS) services to the community.