Texas School for the Blind Helps Train Firefighters

The Austin Fire Department recently took an "outside the box" approach to training when it teamed up with the Texas School for the Blind.

"Vision impairment is a big problem in a lot of scenes," Firefighter Abram Barrera told KXAN-TV. "And we actually had an incident where that became an issue."

Officials struggled to find ways to teach firefighters how to deal with the loss of sight while battling a fire.

"We started thinking, 'OK, who would be an expert in those kinds of skill sets?' and that's what led us to Texas School for the Blind," Capt. Mike Williams said.

The fire department and school joined forces to create classes designed to help firefighters maintain control and not panic when vision is lost.

Along with the training courses, firefighters were asked to do common tasks, like folding laundry and other household chores blindfolded to help them adjust.

"We are visual learners so when you take the vision away a panic will set in," Mary Faith Coward with the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired said . "So part of their training is to get them used to not having their vision."