Extrication Training Strategies

Well, first and foremost, “I’m Back.” The Coronavirus has not done me in, as I have several bushels of limes to take care of any issues that may arise. 


Included in our training should be some new car technology. This is a changing field that most of us struggle to stay abreast. New cars come out each year with new features and problems we may have to deal with as a rescuer.

Spring is rolling in and Summer will be close behind. Spring is always the best time to train as the temperatures are not extremely hot and mainly, the humidity is down. Regardless, always make sure your folks stay hydrated. Make sure you provide some shade for cooling your folks down, plenty of water and Gatorade and keep an eye on folks so you can catch a problem before it occurs if training during the day. Night training is not usually as bad.

Most that know me, know I am all about training. One of the problems we run into is how do we make our extrication training appealing to all of our folks? I get this question a lot during my travels and classes I do. One thing to consider is, if you train to the level of your more advanced folks, your newer people may be lost or feel you are going above their heads. If you train to the level of the new folks, then your advanced folks will be bored. If you follow either of these practices, then you are subject to lose your students when it comes to the next training session. This whole situation can place you in quite a conundrum. You do not want to lose your advanced folks or your beginners, as they all have a part to play in the extrication response. New folks need to be trained and seasoned folks need to keep up their skills, whether they think so or not. I make it a point to try and learn something from every class I teach.

Another problem that can come along for some departments is not having enough vehicles to train on. If you only have one vehicle brought to the station to train on, then again, it’s easy to lose your folks in not having much for them to do. The question is how can we make this better? We want to have all our folks come to training, learn and practice their skills, leave with a greater knowledge and skill base than they came with, and then come back to the next training.

Included in our training should be some new car technology. This is a changing field that most of us struggle to stay abreast. New cars come out each year with new features and problems we may have to deal with as a rescuer. Have someone come in and do a class on hybrids and new technology. I would be willing to bet that most of your more skilled rescuers lack the knowledge in new cars and their features. I did a class in Virginia a few months back and covered some new technology. I had several of their seasoned firefighters tell me that they had learned a lot about new cars and things to look for. This class would be appealing to the novice as well as the advanced rescuers. The other plus is you can do it in the classroom where it is cool.

The next thing to look at is how many vehicles you have to train with. Unless you have a good relationship with a wrecker company, it may not be cost effective to have multiple cars pulled to your station. Your option here is to travel to the salvage yard where they can set out cars and not have the expense of towing them back and forth. Most wrecker drivers really don’t like to go back and tow a vehicle after you have destroyed it in training. When you set this up, have a neighboring department cover for you if you can. This way you can concentrate on the training at hand and not have to leave in the middle of things. A good rule of thumb as to the number of vehicles you may need, is to figure one door per student. If you get four door cars, then that would be good for four rescuers. If you have 12 to 15 students in your class, try and get at least three to four cars to work on. My next article will concentrate on how much you can actually do with just one vehicle.

You have to keep your advanced folks busy and give your new folks some hands-on learning time as well. Starting with the basics, let the skilled rescuers go first and show the new folks how to remove a door. We all have some slight differences in our techniques, so this will allow the new rescuers the chance to develop their own style. The thing to remember here is not to let your new folks be influenced by some of the “old school” folks and get tunnel vision. Those of us that have been around a while, do develop some bad habits at times. There is always more than one correct way to perform an extrication maneuver. Your students need to learn how to remove a door starting with the latch first, but also how to do the same technique starting with the hinges.

Next time we will continue to look at ways to make your extrication training better and more interesting. Remember, it is all about learning, and sometimes we have to expand our horizons and come out of our comfort zone to make this happen.

Any comments or questions are welcome; you can reach me at reds100@aol.com. Stay safe, train hard and work to be the best you can be.

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