Tuesday, April 5, 2011

You're Welcome

 My Department trains hard, trains well, and trains regularly. Sometimes I feel we almost train too much, because it feels like every time I turn around there is another Drill tomorrow night I have to prepare for. I HATE missing Drills.
 But keeping with my new outlook, I realize that we are very fortunate, especially for a Volunteer outfit. Most Departments in this neck of the woods lack the depth of experience and skills within to provide their own training "in-house" and depend on either the County, the State, or neighboring Departments to provide training for their people. We are one of those neighboring Departments that invite our mutual aid Companies to our training events. The instructors come from within our ranks 99% of the time.
 Lately though I have been feeling like we are burning some of our folks up, like me for example. We schedule the bigger training events by season. Not fire seasons, but rather work seasons. Many of our people work in the trades that are controlled by the weather. In another week or two it will be impossible to get a good group together for a major evolution on a weekend, theses guys are working 7 day weeks from now until October. So we stuff a lot in during March when it has warmed up 'a bit' and we do a lot of classroom stuff over the winter. We did an extrication drill back in February that was 'chilly' but productive. To be blunt, we are packing it in now, and coasting through the summer with some shorter drills we can do in an evening.
 So a  few days ago I got a call reminding me about a big drill we had on the following night, and would I be there to handle part of it? "Sure" I said, "what will you need me to do?" "Oh well, ladder bail-outs, body belays, we're also doing the maze, and something else I forgot." "OK, I''ll be there at 6:30".
 Well, as the business Gods would have it, I got out of work late and had to grab a burger and meet the crew at the Drill site. I was really fried after a rough day at work and was not really into doing this drill, I wanted a beer and a bed.
 We had about 25 in the group. I started out by helping the Chief run a wide area search drill (off the rope) which he had never done, but I had. Once we got that going, we had another group working through the Mask Confidence maze, and I set up to teach head first bail outs and body belays. We had all 3 evolutions going at the same time and everybody rotated through. Some got interested or wrapped up in one area or another and never made it through all 3. Some concentrated on a particular skill that was new to them. I had guys running through the bail out window numerous times trying to get the motions burned into their heads, and I also had guys who had never done this before and we slowly walked them through it making sure they understood the 'hows' and 'whys'. We had a good time and made sure everybody got what they wanted or needed. By the end of the night I was soaked with sweat right down to my tightie whities (which are blue, by the way). After all the cleanup, of which there was much, I headed home and flopped into bed. I felt like I had met my obligation but I really would have rather that we had that night off.
 The next morning I came down and was absorbing my 1st cup of coffee and checking my morning web pages when I came across a single line posting from one of our young interior Firefighters on his face book page. It read: "WAS THAT A KICK-ASS DRILL, OR WHAT?!"
 Next time I feel like I'd like the night off, would somebody just reach out and kick me, HARD,  right in the ass, PLEASE? I keep forgetting how important this stuff is to those who need it the most. I take my knowledge for granted and forget that this is new and valuable, even potentially life saving, for others. What is wrong with me?
 The day after tomorrow, we are doing a live burn drill. We are one of very few Departments in this County that can run our own live burns and have invited another Company to join us. It is only a half day Drill but it kills a whole day for me between the preparation, the cleanup, and the nap afterward because I am on duty that night. I hope I can bring a little more positive attitude toward this one, than I did the last. Maybe then I'll have a little more fun and enjoy the moment. I have always sucked at enjoying the moment, y'know?


  1. So much to be thankful for - that you CAN do these drills, that your department wants you to be safe, and that you have these tools should you ever need them.