December 28 (Day 32)
There are 4 tests this week, the first of which is on CPR this afternoon. The morning lectures covered 2 subjects: Wildland Firefighting and Rehabilitation (the process of taking tired firefighters on the scene of an emergency and providing them medical treatment, hydration, rest, and food so they can return to work on the fire ground). In the afternoon we received training from the Regions Hospital EMS staff on CPR and the use of the AED (automatic external defibrillator). It was a long classroom day, but enjoyable. I scored 100% on the CPR exam. That’s one test down, three to go!
At the end of the class day, we completed 50 minutes of hard physical training at the Warner Coliseum. I ran the stairs in full turn out gear, which made for a very hot, tiring, yet rewarding work out! I received a Heart Rate Monitor for Christmas, and had set it up over the weekend. I used it to monitor my workout today, and was surprised at how much more intense the workout was in full PPE. My average heart rate for the 40 minutes workout was 87% of my Maximum Heart Rate (Maximum Heart Rate is the fastest maximum rate that your heart can beat. I think it blows up after that ! J - it sure felt that way to me, anyway!).
I was training in the top of Zone 4 and went into Zone 5 for 16 minutes during the workout. The highest heart rate recorded during the 40 minute session was 98% of my Maximum Heart Rate. I don’t know a lot about Heart Rate Zone Training yet, but it was a GREAT workout, and I felt really good after stopping! J The Coliseum steps are steep and have a narrow tread to them – coming down is somewhat treacherous in boots, but I managed without turning an ankle. I have run this workout in PPE several times now; the only real difficulty is some soreness in my calves the following day.
December 29 (Day 33)
Today was a day of “review” and preparation for the significant tests looming in the latter half of the week: the Minnesota State Firefighter I certification test (written and practical portions) and the Second Quarter Practical Exam. We also had a written test today – Quiz #7 covering 3 chapters in the textbook. I had no difficulty with the test, and the review sessions went fine.
The Second Quarter Practical test (to be held on Friday) was a stomach turner. It didn’t look too difficult, but there are several “critical criteria” that - if missed – result in an automatic failure. You never can be certain of passing any of these exams, and many of us were….well, mildly worried of messing something up or missing a critical step. We ran through the test today for practice – our first time running through it. The test goes like this:
· Recruit must start a rotary power saw and saw through a ¾” piece of rebar to open the steel door of the drill tower,
· After shutting down the saw, proceed to a nearby fire engine and remove a 45 pound electrical fan from the rig and bring it back to the door of the drill tower, pulling the electrical cord as you go,
· Position the fan so that it provides Positive Pressure Ventilation (forcing air into the building) and turn on the fan,
· Prepare a charged hose line for hoisting to the third floor window (clove hitch, safety knot, and half hitch),
· Don face piece and “go on air” – we now have full PPE and SCBA on and are breathing air from our tank (if the PPE is not fully covering all skin, you fail automatically),
· Carry a 70 pound hose bundle up to the 3rd floor of the tower (I run up the stairs),
· Drop the bundle and connect a gated “Y” valve and hose line to a sprinkler stand pipe connection,
· Drag a charged hose across the room and open the nozzle; hold that position and flow water for 60 seconds (simulating fighting a fire on the third floor of the building). We used a hose line with a 60 pound weight on the end to simulate the weight of the water – it was far too cold outside to actually flow water through the hose,
· Run up the stairs to the 5th floor and hoist a 75 pound hose bundle up through the window (lots of arm power required, and the window is 40 feet + above the ground),
· Run back down the stairs and exit the drill tower.
The above steps MUST be complete in 7 minutes or less!
My first practice session was completed in 5 minutes, 28 seconds. Everything went smooth. I was breathing heavily after running up the stairs to the third floor with the hose bundle, but once into position with the charged hose line, I was able to slow my breathing and “rest” (relatively speaking!). The run up to the fifth floor was no sweat, and I could see the end in sight, but the hose bundle raise to the 5th floor window kicked my butt!
The afternoon physical training session was conducted at the Warner Coliseum again, and this time I ran around the concourse of the Coliseum and did calisthenics and stretches. Following the physical training hour, several us returned to the Training Center with our instructor, Bernie Vrona, and reviewed the practical testing stations for tomorrow’s State Certification Test.
I had easily passed the written test today, and the practice session for Friday’s Quarterly practical test had gone well. Two tests down….the hardest two to go!