Day 23- Day 27: Hazardous Materials Operations

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December 20, 2009: 

This was a very long and tedious week of predominantly classroom work devoted primarily to Hazardous Materials Operations. For me, the classroom work was punctuated by a variety of “Fire Chief” activities that took me away from the classroom on several of the days. The week also was a bit unusual because I missed several days of physical training and the typical Friday written test was held in the afternoon, not the morning. So, the whole week felt a bit disjointed for me…..
 
The hazardous materials operations classroom work was – well…..LONG! There is a lot of material to cover (spills, identification and recognition, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, decontamination processes, etc.). The material itself was interesting, but we had to push through a lot in a week, so it was nearly all conducted in the classroom via lectures. Imagine pushing a brick through wet sand………slow, slow, SLOW going!!
 
Our instructors, however, did a good job of trying to hold our interest. Bernie injected “ropes and knots” practical challenges into some classes. He had some exceptional videos to highlight various topics. He used the excellent online databases and resources available from the publisher of our textbook (Jones and Bartlett) to break up the lectures and test our knowledge. We also:
 
·      Received a visit from the Fire Department’s Medical Director, Dr. R.J. Frascone
 
·      Practiced extinguishing simulated kitchen and bedroom fires and practiced roof ventilation techniques (axes and chainsaws) using another of the Mobile Simulation Trailer Units from Hennepin Technical College.
 
·      Donned and doffed various chemical protective clothing ensembles
 
·      Conducted a simulated hazardous materials incident
 
·      Completed an online course in the Incident Command System – a standardized way of managing the resources and priorities of an emergency response. 
 
My classmates were also issued their second paycheck, received vaccinations for the H1N1 virus, and were issued department email addresses and computer accounts.
 
I had to balance classroom work with several key administrative meetings this week, attend a truly inspirational graduation ceremony of the Fall Class of the Saint Paul EMS Academy and move my office into a new fire headquarters building. There were some awfully early mornings this week, and several nights where I almost made it to midnight before crashing. This week I definitely burned the candle on both ends! That also is the reason I haven’t posted as frequently on this blog, and I’ll try to get back onto a more regular schedule this coming week.
 
This coming Wednesday will also be our Fire Academy’s “hump day” – we’ll be exactly halfway through the academy, with 6 ½ weeks remaining until graduation!
 
If you are in the fire service and want access to a wide variety of training and instructor information (weekly drills, daily training topics, and excellent reference materials), you can check out the excellent resources available from Jones and Bartlett (like the tests and videos we used this week in class). You can find them at: www.firefighter.jbpub.com
 
I hope you all are enjoying the peace and happiness of the Christmas and Holiday season! Stay safe and warm, and I hope you can spend time enjoying the blessings of the holidays with family and friends!
 
Tim 

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