500 Maydays Called in Rookie School

For the first time, Mayday Doctrine was incorporated in a Firefighter I course. The mayday training addressed the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains of learning at the mastery level of performance.


Authors Note:Brent Batla contributed to this article

For the first time, Mayday Doctrine was incorporated in a Firefighter I course. The mayday training addressed the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains of learning at the mastery level of performance. Twenty-two rookie firefighters are now 100% confident in their knowledge, skill, and ability to call mayday if they ever need to.

The mayday curriculum was incorporated into the TrainingDivision.com firefighter rookie school program. The students came from 5 states and 2 counters to qualify for their national Firefighter I, II, Hazmat Awareness, and Hazmat Operations certifications. The students took approximately 332 hours of online study to learn the cognitive course material for the certifications.

The cognitive and affective aspects of mayday doctrine were delivered by having the student take the NFA self study course "Firefighter Safety: Calling the Mayday" which is an online course delivered by Firehouse.com free of charge worldwide. The course contains 2 hours of material that includes reading five online articles about mayday; watching a 50 minute web cast that covers why firefighters are reluctant to call mayday and why is it critical to call mayday immediately when confronted with mayday parameters. The course illustrates, through videotape, how challenging the physical skill of using a portable radio can be when calling mayday. Finally, the students take an online final exam on mayday doctrine that requires a 100% correct passing score.

After passing 39 exams online the students arrived in Crowley TX to begin the two-week, 136 hour resident, psychomotor training portion of the rookie school. The students became members of Training Division Boot Camp 14. The mayday training was incorporated into the PPE, SCBA, Search & Rescue, and Hose Advancing evolutions of the rookie school. Mayday training was accomplished with no appreciable time being added to the curriculum.

To facilitate the firefighters competence using the portable radio each student was issued a radio on the second day of boot camp. Students were required to have their radio with them at all time during course hours. This enabled instructors to communicate with individual students, to companies they were assigned to, and the entire class as needed. The students responded to PAR's whenever requested by instructors, teams could be give work assignments, student's could ask questions, and make reports. The radios were considered an important tool that enhanced communications during the 2-week boot camp. Using the radio made the student competent in normal, response, and emergency traffic communications situations.

The portable radio must become a normal part of firefighter's PPE just like SCBA, gloves, and hood. Firefighters can not go into IDLH environments without a portable radio. Firefighters must be as competent using the radio as they are with SCBA because their life depends on it. Therefore, radio training was considered part of the PPE training requirement.

To imprint the Mayday Calling Knowledge, Skill, and Ability (KSA) on to the students brain and body; they stated out in full PPE with portable radio and were covered with a tarp (photo 1.) They laid face down under the tarp, while on breathing air they used their left hand to locate the radio mike and call mayday using LUNAR (Location, Unit, Name, Assignment, Resources Needed See End Note). Their partner, in another location acting as command, received the mayday call and repeated the LUNAR information back to the down firefighter. If the correct information was not sent or received accurately the process was repeated until 100% competency was achieved. Still in a face down position the student repeated calling mayday using the right hand to locate the radio and send the mayday. Students then laid on their right side, left side, back, and kneeling/bent forward and repeated the mayday call process using the left and right hand achieving 100% competency in each position. At a minimum the student practiced calling mayday 10 times. This skills drill helped students learn how to locate and use their radio in various body positions with both hands. It also gave them practice talking over the radio giving and receiving information. This sounds easy but the skill takes practice and drill to master and maintain competence.

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