In today’s fire service, training is critical. Every fire department participates in training in some form or fashion. Because we have become so versatile, we must keep training on many different aspects of our service to remain effective and efficient. But sometimes — at least in my experience — we can become lackadaisical in our training efforts. It is so easy to go outside and pump the truck or throw some ladders or even watch a training film and say that we trained. Is there anything wrong with that? I don’t think so, because you need to be versatile in your training. Here in Mississippi, the State Rating Bureau requires all full-time personnel complete at least 1 hour of training per shift day to meet their standards. Many times we go through the motions just to complete the required amount of training required.
In my career I have had the fortunate opportunity to receive most of my fire service training at the Mississippi Fire Academy. This is a top-notch facility and the instructor staff and support that is provided there is top notch. I have taken numerous classes there and received excellent information that I can keep with me throughout my career. While attending classes offered by the academy's special/industrial services division, I had the privilege to obtain one of the most vital pieces of training information that I have ever received. Instructor Chief Curtiss Marbury always comes in and speaks to the classes. And he always leaves you with this thought, “Train the most on the things you do the least.”
After hearing this message for the first time, I made a point to make this my challenge as a training officer and a company officer. Why do we continue to train on things that we do every day? We know we can operate the pump, we know that we can check a blood pressure or package a patient. We know how to operate the spreaders and cutters. Most of us perform these tasks on a regular basis. When was the last time that you performed a search pattern in a smoke-filled environment and rescued a victim? When was the last time that you checked your air consumption and tried to evacuate a building? When have you last tried to conserve your air after your low pressure alarm has sounded? When was the last time that you intubated a patient or placed an airway in someone? These are the things that are critical to us as emergency responders that we do not see every day. Yet when the time comes, we are expected to perform these tasks without hesitation and with the upmost perfection.
These are the things that can save lives! Most importantly, we should be concentrating on things that can save our life. I am not saying that training on the everyday things is not necessary. Those tasks are very important as well. However, if you use those skills every day, it becomes somewhat second nature to you. You many only need minor refreshing to bring you up to the upmost proficient level. However, the tasks that you do not use every day need more practice, both on the cognitive and psychomotor level. This is to prevent the old saying “if you don’t use it, you lose it” from happening.
Chiefs, training officers, company officers and firefighters — I leave you with this thought, what are you training for? Hopefully we can all take Marbury’s advice and train the most on the things that we use the least! You never know when you may become trapped in a fire, have to rescue an infant in a burning upstairs apartment or resuscitate a person. Let’s make the effort to ensure we are ready! This information could save someone’s life — maybe even yours.