SCBA Confidence Course
We do a confidence course about twice a year. We are doing it more often with our junior program to prepare them for when they become senior members. Can you guys give me some information on how your company runs them? Also, can you guys give me some information on creating our own maze? Like what do you use to make it more difficult? Thanks :)
I have pictures of our county SCBA maze, but that computer is on the fritz right now. Let's see what I can remember...
A hose line (uncharged) is used as the guide, since the masks are covered. Waxed paper works well.
After checking a door, they enter and almost immediately are faced with a plastic culvert about 6 feet long. It's big enough that most FF's can get through without removing their pack. Then it's through a stud wall, followed by passing through a 16"x16" square hole in a block wall. This will require removing the SCBA and pushing it ahead. They're now outside, and follow the hose back inside the smoke tower.
Once there, it's through a floor joist prop, then down the ramp through the reduced opening, around a tight corner, and out another door, where they're finished.
I've probably forgotten something.
More difficult? Completely block their vision, as opposed to limiting it with waxed paper.
Putting the hood on backwards over the mask works great as well to obscure their vision.
To be honest....you want to get them comfortable with wearing and working while in a pack before "challenging" them.
Simply have them wear it when they are at the station. Whether it's watching TV, mopping the floor, doing paperwork, etc. Get them used to wearing it when there is no pressure at all.
After that...then start working in the challenges.
Another drill you can do is have the FF remove their pack, then have the instructor take it apart by removing the tank, disconnecting regulator, mess with the straps, etc. Basically, twist things up pretty good. Have the FF wear full PPE, and lead them to the pile and have them assemble the air pack, put it on and connect back to air. You can run this drill as a race between multiple members. Once they are connected, simulate one of them losing air and require them to hook up to another FF with the buddy breathing system. Do all of this while their masked are blacked out. We use a blackout shield that inserts into the mask and eliminates all vision. This is also how they should proceed through any maze that you have set up. Of course, this is done after the FF has become familiar with the pack and is comfortable donning and doffing, swapping tanks on air, etc.
I just finished the NYS Confidence course at our county training center, 12+ hours over 4 nights. It kicked my *** pretty hard! I had bruises in places I never had before. Here are a few things I took from it.
The class focused on entanglements, SCBA failures, and of course working with the pack on. The class was just that, building confidence in your gear and skills. The maze at the training center is configurable, the instructors changed it up every time we went through. It has multiple levels, ladders, stairs, "collapsible" floor, doors, tunnels, wall studs, rafters, holes, you name it. No hose line to follow, that's cheating. Have students use their brains to visualize where they are and how to get out. All work should be done with vision completely obscured, hoods on backwards works great.
This should go without saying but all evolutions should be "run what you brung". Meaning, on air, full gear and don't remove anything from your pockets. If you normally carry enough tools in your pockets to stock Sears, leave it all there. If you normally have crap all over your coat/helmet, leave it on. If you carry a radio, carry it where and how you always carry it. The point is to see what works and what doesn't, not to see who can get through the fastest/easiest.
-Entanglements. Hooboy, talk about an eye opener. We were tied up every which way imaginable. Instructors tied wire/cable/rope to our packs, arms, feet, neck, etc. Wrapped the bottles in ropes/wires, wedged it between the pack and your back, strung wire between studs so that during a wall breach your tank would get hung up on it. I highlight this one because every wall has wire running through it 16" off the ground. If you're going through a wall you're going to encounter wire.There was one prop that was a box frame that had 7-8 ropes hanging approximately 8-10 inches apart, each about 4-5 inches off the ground. You had to "swim" under it to get through.
The last evolution was ridiculous, it was literally a new entanglement every 3-4 feet through the maze. This taught a few things. First, how to use a tool with your gloved hand. A few students discovered their wizbang tool from Galls or wherever was inadequate to either cut through thicker wire or they were incapable of using it with a gloved hand. Second, troubleshooting. It taught students to determine where and how they were hung up when they couldn't see anything, know your pack, visualize it, find whats not supposed to be there.
-Entrapments/Maydays. This part was used to teach Maydays and a few other techniques. Sections of the maze can be blocked off after a student enters, to essentially create a box with no way out. Lost/disoriented? Call a mayday.
Instructors had a section of chain link fence, they would drop it on a student as they crawled by and then 2-3 instructors would stand on it to simulate being trapped under a collapse/debris. This taught one thing particularly well, protect your mask and mic, if your mask is stripped off by falling debris you can't breathe, likewise if you cant reach your mic because your arms are now pinned under your body, you cant call for help. I learned that where I clipped the mic (outside of the collar) didn't work, it was easily stripped off. Now it's clipped on the inside of my collar, somewhat more protected.
Another section of the maze has a collapsible floor that drops you into a foam pit to simulate falling through a floor. Again, protect your mask and mic. Also when you're calling your mayday make sure you give the correct location, you're no longer on the second floor you just fell through! Lots of students got this wrong.
-SCBA failures/troublehsooting. Know how to identify and mitigate SCBA failures. Start from your mask and work your way back to the pack. In the maze instructors would turn off students bottles or open the bypass. What to do if your face piece fails. Know how to do all this without having to use your eyes, know how to identify and use all the controls on your pack (including PASS alarm) with a gloved hand. Know how to not flip the **** out when that mask sucks down hard on your face because you're not getting any air.
I was amazed at how quickly my confidence and skill grew over just the 4 nights of class. I had the hardest time the first night and it was by far the easiest evolution, just the standard maze with a few entanglements. The last night was the most difficult evolution and I had the "easiest" time with it. And by easiest I mean I was more comfortable working with my gear/tools and without sight. But most importantly, mentally.
We have a 'maze' built into the training room at our station. It consists two areas. The middle are is set up like a typical apartment/condo and is used for firematic stuff.. Primary Searches, hose line advancement. Around the outside is a SCBA confidence course that has reduced/low profile obstacles, entanglements and other hazards.
The favorite is a door with two padlocks. The keys to the locks are hooked to tennis balls that are located in the small enclosed area around the door. The member has to find the keys and open the padlocks to proceed. It's not a firematic task by any means but it pulls together several tasks and behaviors.. gloved dexterity, working with reduced/no vision, dealing with frustration.etc.
We use the room a lot for various drills: As I mentioned the yearly SCBA confidence plus searches, hoseline advancement, Mayday, RIT
My dept is a big believer in training (The more you sweat in training the less you bleed in war is very valid with us). We've got the plastic culverts, entanglement boxes, and such that we put to good use. Both the rookies (currently we have a rookie school going to get several of us FF1/2 certified, and I'm in that) and the regular members are doing lots of training.
The class I just took was our PPE class. The standards were to learn the proper use of PPE and how to put it on correctly and do it (PPE and SCBA donned correctly and flowing air) within the 2 minute time limit. We went a bit...beyond that. Our instructors blacked out and smoked up a bay and put us in it to learn how to change bottles blind and get through obstacles and stuff along that line. They filmed us through the thermal imager and we discussed it afterwards. Everyone enjoyed it and learned quite a bit.
I think it helped tremendously with confidence in using the SCBA. One of my partners insisted they couldn't do the course. We worked together and that person passed with flying colors. I know I'm much more comfortable wearing and using the SCBA.
Originally Posted by Bones42
I agree. This is what I do with our new members and also juniors. They can gain a lot of confidence just from wearing the SCBA over a time period. We have had them wash trucks, sweep the floor etc. while in full gear and on air.
I'm all for SCBA courses and use not only ours but travel to other departments to try theirs but for the life of me I can not fathom why people put culverts in them because I always ask myself this question. "Who is the dummy who thought they could run a two person crew with a charged hoseline through a ditch!" Going through stud walls, yep, moving furniture or other items out of the way yep. Drop ceiling entanglement boxes, yep. But culverts..come on!!
Initially I thought the same thing as you did. A vast majority of our calls are residential structures, I'm not likely to encounter a culvert or tube in any of them! (And if I did I sure as hell wouldn't dive headfirst into one!) However, after I did it a few (dozen) times I realized the point is not to teach you how to get through a culvert, its to teach you to get "comfortable" in uncomfortable/claustrophobic situations.
Originally Posted by BrianB35
Creating a maze that can be changed around is the key. This way guys/girls don't get use to a certain set-up. I'm actually planning on building one for my dept. If you can administer stairways, a doorway, a window, rafters, wall studs, a tunnel at an angle and other obstacles, you should be in good shape. Also, a great entanglement idea we use is old broken X-Mas light strings. You can use them for a lot of things, but they work great in getting people tangled and they are usually free, easy to hang and it's not an expense if you destroy them. If you can find the ones with those funny shields over the bulbs, not sure what they're called, but they look like a shade or flower peddle. They drive people insane!
Having a tube or tunnel can be very helpful. You may never encounter one in real life, but you may never encounter a lot of things at a scene until it happens. You never know. It's a great way to teach confidence, teamwork and problem solving. Especially if the tube is inverted. It's very challenging. It doesn't have to be a tube, could be a cube. The idea is to make it tight and difficult.
That's a great idea!
Originally Posted by Rice09
Yeah, I found it by accident at an actual call, lol. I'm telling you. It will make you frustrated and that's the idea.
Originally Posted by FuturePrimitive