How often do we hear people complaining about how busy our shifts are these days? I'm not talking about call volume busy, but all of the other activities that fill our days. Granted, we have a lot on our plates. Between station duties, apparatus duties, inspections, hyrdrants, fire prevention, and everything else we undoubtedly have a lot going on. Unfortunately, this tends to result in training being pushed to the back burner, and then usually off the stove top completely. This is a dangerous habit to fall into.
I realize there are going to be those days where nothing goes right and before you know it you're laying down for the evening. More often than not, however, we tend to find ourselves with chunks of time throughout the day where we are in between duties. What are we doing with those chunks of time? Added up, you may realize we have more spare time than what you initially thought. Have you ever thought about putting that spare time to use?
You may be wondering, how are we supposed to squeeze training into these small and mostly unanticipated chunks of time? The solution is simple. First, talk with your crew about areas which need attention. Maybe it's ladders, or medical, or ropes and knots. I guarantee there are plenty of areas to touch on. Once you have identified skills which need work, compile a list. Off of this list you can pre-package short training sessions. Maybe it's focusing on a specific ladder raise, or a specific haul system. It should be something you can accomplish in a short period of time. Once you have these pre-packaged training sessions put together you are ready to go.
It's 1400 on a Tuesday afternoon. You finished business inspections earlier than you anticipated. Now you're back in the station. You know you have an officer's meeting at 1530. What are you going to do with this spare time? Go look at your pre-packaged training list and decide on a skill to work on. Run through the skill or skills, have a short debrief, and you're done! There should even be some time left over before your next appointment. It's that simple!
Obviously implementing this type of program will come with some grumbling from the crew. The key is to turn this into a habit. It should get to the point where it is expected that these short chunks of time are utilized. Start small, you don't want to overwhelm the system. Demonstrate why this is important and how it will benefit everyone involved. Encourage everyone to submit ideas for these short training events. The more sources for ideas the better the training will become. Plus, it will give the crew ownership. I challenge everyone to look for a quality way to squeeze in training. Yes we are busy, but we have opportunities. We should not be alright with wasting those opportunities. This is just one example of a way to accomplish this. Find what works for you and run with it. As always, stay smart, and stay combat ready!