Recently while observing a rural fire department's annual SCBA certification process I noticed a distressing trend with the younger members. While operating in a dark and simulated smoke filled environment members were asked to identify the location of their 'bypass'. As a whole most of them struggled, it was not instinctive at all. When asked to display how to use the bypass many were slow and timid. Finally when asked what the purpose of the bypass was for most members first thought to say was "to clear a fogged face piece." Was this improper training or complacency? I suspect a mixture of both.
As just an observer consulting with this company I quickly asked the lieutenant in charge if I could interject. My comment was simple "That red knob is referred to as the 'Emergency Bypass' because when you have to use it...it IS an emergency."
As instructors, mentors, coaches and counselors we must be ever cautious to not 'dumb down' training...especially something as important as SCBA training. We must require the intimate knowledge, skills and abilities of the essentials of surviving todays modern fire ground. We need to be able to quickly identify complacency and root it from our training programs.
Sometimes it takes a complete stranger to see what most others choose to overlook.