When you read this, we will be enjoying all that summer brings. I hope everyone’s spring was good, and you were able to enjoy some family time, personal time and just good “ole” down time. This is something we all need in our careers as Fire/Rescue/EMS providers.
Sometimes we just have to put ourselves first, a totally different concept for some of us. In the last articles we have discussed school bus extrication. We studied bus anatomy, stabilization, IC and extrication. In this column we are going to skip looking at extrication and talk a little bit about how we train or don’t train.
Some things in vehicle extrication do not change, and some things change drastically. There are numerous articles published on new car technology and how cars are changing every year. Hybrids are becoming more and more frequent on the highways. Every year car manufacturers introduce new automobiles with more features for the buyer but creating more problems for the rescuer. Sometimes we pause and think, will we ever be knowledgeable enough and will we ever truly know what we need too know?
Most people that know me, know that I am all about training. A great man once said, “The more we sweat in training, the less we bleed in battle.” We can transfer that to rescue by saying “The more we learn in training, the better chance our victims have of survival,” not to mention our own safety and that of our team. We must come to realize that it is not always how many hours we train, but it is the quality of our training. I would rather train folks for four hours learning and practicing skills, as well as gaining knowledge applied to the vehicles we work on, than spend eight hours standing around talking shop and truly not getting the training we should.
Get Your Training Out of That Rut
Are you getting in the quality of training you should be, or are you ultimately wasting valuable time and effort? Most members have a limited amount of time to spare, so if training wastes more time than it should, these members tend to shun training for other things. You start to see a drop in your training attendance, which only hurts the department. Your instructors need to be on top of things and be current with changes in rescue. Our classes should vary in the things we do so not to become redundant. If our training falls into a rut, so do the members that attend them. Sometimes you need to break out of that rut and offer something new to your folks.
Crush a Few Cars
There is another problem we run into while teaching vehicle extrication, and that is, most of the time we practice our skills and techniques on cars we acquire from the salvage yard. These cars are usually older models, with minimal damage. This is fine for practicing and mastering your basic cutting, spreading, lifting and pushing skills. But if you think about it, how many cars do you extricate victims from that look like the ones you train on from the salvage yard. I would be willing to bet, very few. I use an example in my classes to show this very thing. I take an aluminum drink can, empty of course, and cut a three-sided hole in the side of the can. I then peel it back like opening a door. This is like we train for extrication. Then I take another aluminum drink can and crush it, I then ask the class, “now make that same cut, as this is how we have to perform extrications in the real world.” It brings a really good point to light. We do a lot of training on cars that are not damaged and perform extrications in the field on cars that are damaged to the maximum. Perhaps we should consider doing some of our training on cars that we have crushed, giving us a more realistic training scenario.
Train on New Technology
We are now seeing more and more crashes involving new cars equipped with much newer technology. I know of two incidents, and I am sure there are many more untold, where the side air bags were activated by the rescuers attempting to perform an extrication. Obviously, this was due to a lack of education and training on new car technology. A lot of the dos and don’ts are simple to learn and know, but ones you need to be aware of. We have to become more aware of our surroundings and take those few extra seconds to plan our extrication. The plus with all this new technology is, along come applications for cell phones and computers that will help us know what we may be up against.
As always, train to your best, keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to think out of the box. Always keep safety in the forefront and never stop learning.