Thursday, September 27th, 2012 10:09 am
By J.R. Dennison
of the Leatherhead Instructors, LLC
As the weather changes, it will be more difficult to get outside and train, but it does not need to stop us. In this blog we will talk about some alternative training that is just as effective and important, but often overlooked, during the warmer months. There are many things that can be accomplished while sitting around the table or participating in an inside drill.
How often do you turn on your S.C.B.A. and hear an air leak or have some sort of malfunction? A good indoor training can be taking your packs off of the rig and talking about the common issues that you have had or will encounter: leaks where the high pressure line connects to the bottle, a loose bottle in the harness, tangled straps, bad batteries, etc. Familiarize yourself and your crew with the audible and visual alerts that your pack offers. Look at the R.I.T. connections, drag devices on your pack, and discuss how you will utilize these in the event of an emergency on the fire ground.
When you feel that you and your crew is ready; one member of the crew can take a S.C.B.A. into a dark room and tighten the straps, take the cylinder off of the frame or loosen the connections, turn the bypass on, and buckle the waist straps together. Have another member of the crew, with their gear and mask on, crawl into the dark room and get the S.C.B.A. correctly assembled, donned, and breathing air. Run each member of your crew through this course and when you are all done, discuss the issues that you encountered and the ways that they were remedied. This is a simple but useful confidence course that allows you to practice one of the most basic, yet most important, pieces of equipment on our trucks today.
Another good indoor training is to complete an air consumption course. This will give you a good idea how long everyone takes to use an air cylinder during normal working conditions. Set up a maze through your station to include a ladder climb, search, hose drag, and tool use (swinging an ax or pulling ceilings). You can use a step ladder for the ladder climb, place tape on the ground simulating the start and finish of the search, set up a nozzle and hose for the drag, and use a tractor or semi tire for the tool use (either flip the object a set number of times or stand on it and strike it with a sledge hammer for a set period of time). Repeat the course as many times as you can before you run out of air.
Have each member of your crew start with a full air cylinder, mark their start time, when their low air alarm sounds, and when they are completely out of air. These times will let them know roughly how long they have to work on a single cylinder and how long they have from the time their low air alarm sounds until they are completely out of air. These findings can also aid in pairing people to perform tasks that share similar usage. Try and make this an annual training event at your department and strive to improve your cardiac health to achieve better times.
One of the most common tasks we face in our job is lifting – whether patients or objects on the fire ground. Our bodies take a constant beating due to the increase in the size of patients, the weight of our gear, or repetitive motions involved in our work. Back injuries are among the leading causes of line of duty injuries, and training on lifting and dragging can limit these.
A good way to simulate lifting patients is to place a member of your crew or a dummy on the cot and practice raising and lowering. Have a member of your crew dress in their gear with an air pack and set on the ground at the bottom of the stairs. Practice different techniques of moving the downed firefighter up and down the stairs and different techniques for moving a firefighter across a floor and around obstacles. There is no right or wrong way to do this, just use what works most efficiently for your crew.
I hope that these training suggestions are useful, and that they give you a different perspective for training in the cooler months. Remember that any training is better than no training at all! Stay safe and train hard!