As an involved community supporter, I have learned that you can only show up to take photos at an event like Fire Ops 101 so many times before someone will talk you into actually participating.
That time for me had come.
Last weekend, I threw on 30 or 40 pounds of protective fire gear, an actual fireman’s hat and took part in what was a comprehensive – and exhausting – day of fire fighter training over at the Lee’s Summit Fire Department’s Station No. 7.
Seeing this through the eyes of a camera lens for many years didn’t come close to preparing me for what was ahead.
Fortunately, our group – which included Lee’s Summit Mayor Randy Rhoads – started out with some medical treatment and paramedic talking points, nothing too grueling there.
Of course, that session ended with “how do you remove a 180-pound man (dummy) from a shower during a medical emergency?” task. That was tricky.
I never imagined in my journalism career that I would be working side by side with the mayor on removing someone from a fire station shower and onto a gurney.
Once we were done learning the finer points of EMT duties (and learning that every LSFD member is also a trained EMT or paramedic), we moved on to search and rescue, a drill that had two of us in a smoke-filled, dark room, crawling through and looking for victims.
This was certainly the most intensive and high-stress part of the day for me. Putting on the oxygen mask wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be, but dragging a hose, an ax and a person around a pitch-black room tends to raise your blood pressure a bit.
These early sessions certainly gave me a heightened respect for what these men and women do when they go out on calls.
While those were physically taxing sessions, they were also eye-opening to me.
After that, we had the opportunity to climb the fire ladder over an empty parking lot onto the roof of the building, and then were lowered and raised by pulley a few stories. There’s a lesson in trusting your team (and the rope).
From a guy standpoint, tearing the roof off a car and snapping the doors off the hinges was the best part of Fire Ops 101. Fortunately this isn’t a call our fire fighters have to routinely respond to. But when someone is trapped after car accident, you can rest assured our LSFD has the equipment to get them out.
And a quick thank you to Capt. Mohrmann – this guy has a sweet device that you simply press up against a window, snap the lever and window shatters. I could have done that all day.
Ever held a fire hose with 150 gallons per minute of water thrusting out? You will never forget it if you get that opportunity. It took every bit of our four-man team lining up and supporting one another to pull that off.
Anyone physically able should challenge themselves to participate in Fire Ops 101 and get a glimpse into what a great group of first responders we have here in Lee’s Summit.
A big thanks to Dave Smith, Dan Manley, Jim Eden, Keith Martin, Capt. Mohrmann and all those that volunteered and let the average citizens get a glance into their world.
We all appreciate your service.
John Beaudoin is the publisher of the Lee’s Summit Journal. To comment, call 816-282-7001 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.