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On April 14th 1912, a screeching sound awakened many on an “unsinkable” ship. This couldn’t be happening! They’d said it was impossible; that the ship was unsinkable. When I think of training, I consistently relate it in many ways to the events leading up to the Titanic’s tragic night.  The source of danger was lingering beneath the surface. While many thought that a massive gash punched into the upward hull caused the ship to sink, this was later disapproved. Instead, the Titanic sank because of six narrow gashes running down the starboard side of the ship. With information that historians provided, it wasn’t one large issue that led to the tragedy of the Titanic. It was many smaller issues ranging from at least six warnings of ice fields being ignored to a captain that was drifting in and out of sleep in his cabin.

 As a firefighter, station, or department are you in danger of hitting an iceberg? Is our training appropriate and realistic or are we traveling foolishly at high speeds, believing our current skills are shipshape and will carry us through any situation? Are their preventable issues that risk tearing gashes in our fire department “ship”? These gashes can be caused by many issues ranging from overly confident members, lack of training, busy work schedules, foolish priorities, distractions, or enter yours here _______________.

I often hear that the real emergency scenes are nothing like training. I must ask are we conducting our training in real time, with appropriate staffing, while adding realistic distractions or are we as departments doing the minimum to get by? Is it any surprise that there is a disconnect between training and emergency calls? For example, while conducting a drill you put 25 special operations responders on scene to mitigate a trench rescue. When in reality, you may have a couple engine companies prior to their arrival and you will be lucky to have 5-10 special operation technicians on scene in the real world. I think the answer is clear. Attempt to make it realistic.

All I ask is that you look at yourself, your crew, your training, and department in an attempt to avoid being a “shipwreck” waiting to happen.

ISAAC FRAZIER is a Special Operations Lieutenant with St. Johns County Florida’s Heavy Rescue “Squad 4”. First due to the deadliest stretch of roadway in the nation, Frazier teaches from personal street experience providing tried and true tactics. Frazier is the owner of Tactical Advantage Training and creator of the course Tactical Extrication. Frazier travels nationally sharing his passion teaching fire and extrication courses. Frazier is a Florida Fire Officer, FL Paramedic, Special Operations Officer, Florida State Instructor, FLUSAR Tech, Diver, and FL Hazmat Tech. 

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Comment by Mark vonAppen on August 11, 2014 at 7:59am

Great stuff!  Training must be germane to the situations we will encounter.  Practice without improvement is meaningless.

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