Remember the 'Old School' Techniques

As we look to a new year filled where technology continues to impact our equipment, I would like to remind readers to remember the basics and less-advanced means of rescue.

Each and every tool we carry fills a specific need. Take the time to review and practice with all of the options you have available to you. Knowing the benefits and limitations of these tools will create a stronger more adaptable rescuer.

Now let's take a look at the human factor which is equally important in our efforts to keep up with the changes in technology that we face in the fire/rescue service. For those that have been in both the fire service and instructional world for a number of years we also must keep up with the times.

One of the best examples of changing with the times came from a speaker at an instructors conference. He spoke on the need to make sure "all aspects" of a training lesson covering rescue tools, specifically hand tools are covered. His example to prove his point went as follows:

If you were from an older generation and your lawn mower didn't run properly, you would put it on the work bench and try to fix it with your collection of tools. Be it with a crescent wrench, Philips head screw driver, socket wrench or any of the tools available to you, you would begin a "rescue attempt" on your dying mower. Then once you had achieved your goal of getting it to run (and lets all admit it still counted as running properly even if we were filling the neighbor's yard with blue smoke from our now "resuscitated" mower), you then continue on with your task of mowing the lawn.

Many people today when faced with the same dilemma of a nonfunctional mower will take it to the curb for the trash collector. Then it's off to the local home center to purchase a new mower and return home to complete the day's chores.

As we sat there wondering where he was going with this tale, he brought it all together by concluding that; many of the members coming into the fire service today do not come with the "Old School" ways of doing what it takes to get the job done. Because of this we may be responding along side a fellow firefighter that does not know the difference between a flat head screwdriver and a Philips head screwdriver or a crescent wrench and a combination wrench.

It is imperative that we all take the time to pass along the knowledge that others have shared with us over the years. We can not take for granted that everyone we respond with has the same knowledge and background. By doing this we can continue the long and honored traditions of providing those we respond to with the highest level of service.

Whether it is the new technology or the old school methods being used, the successful outcome of our efforts is what we will be judged by.

BOB DUEMMEL serves as the Technical Rescue Editor for Firehouse and is a captain with the Rochester, NY, Fire Department. He serves as the plans manager for New York Task Force 2 (NY TF-2) and is a member of the New York State USAR IST. Duemmel has delivered training to fire service, industrial, military and international rescue teams and is the host of “The Buzz on Technical Rescue" podcast series on You can reach him at