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While it may seem that EMS takes up much of your time (as it should, since EMS is an integral part of our job), we must always be prepared for our historically “core” responsibility – responding to and getting water on fires, performing searches and on those rare, but critical occasions, making rescues. What’s the common denominator? Training.
It’s no secret that training is a main factor in minimizing firefighter injury and death. Senior members should training regularly. For probationary and newer firefighters, training is non-stop. Seriously, non-stop. If you are a probie, rookie, trainee or whatever your fire department calls you (meaning you have less than five years of service), you have no time for TV, video games, cell phones, chatter, gossip, texting, movies or anything unrelated to your role at the department or company.
If you fall into this category and are a career firefighter, your day should be spent (in addition to whatever you’re a directed to do) arriving before anyone else, checking all the tools and equipment and spending every moment you can on the apparatus floor learning about every tool and related task so when you use it or do it, it is second nature. It will take a long time for you to learn, just as it did for those who came before you. OK, sure, you get to the kitchen first to help prepare the meal, you eat last, finish first and do the dishes – that’s standard. But when you’re done, it’s training time. Read, study, review and know your department policies by heart.
If this is unrealistic or too tough, find another career. I mean it.
If you are a volunteer or part-time firefighter, the same applies when you are in quarters or have free time. The fires don’t care whether you get paid or not. Read the training articles, study the training websites and never miss a drill or training opportunity. Ask lots of questions. Either you are going to be ready or you are not. And when you are not ready, the entire “team” concept falls apart, with you being the weakest link.
Fortunately, the Peoria Fire Department provided Firefighter Steffen with the training, leadership and motivation to understand just how important his role is – in this case, knowing how to save himself with the help of his fellow firefighters. His training, motivation and discipline paid off, big time.