Special for The Republic
Sept. 5, 2009 07:00 AM
I was hired in August 1982 and recently celebrated 27 years as a Phoenix firefighter. It seems like yesterday that I was at our training academy in south Phoenix learning what recruit firefighters learn: basic survival skills and emergency medical treatment for patients.
We were taught that training and falling back on procedures would save our lives and save the lives of people we were protecting. This was drilled into us for 13 weeks and, like most things, it took about 13 years for me to understand the wisdom of those training officers.
One afternoon our training session included video footage of firefighters getting seriously injured or killed in the line of duty. The scenarios included collapses, explosions, fires, electrocution and vehicular response. By the end of that day I was pretty sure that my career would end in a gloomy and dark sort of way. Sometimes it’s good to have a healthy respect or fear for what you’re doing when you are a firefighter.
Recently, trends across the U.S. have shown that one of the most dangerous parts of being a firefighter can be the actual response to and from an emergency call. We have seen a tremendous increase in surface-street traffic along with emergency call volume and the need to be at somebody’s doorstep within a matter of minutes.