|Organizers painstakingly burnt
the edges of 2,000 brochures
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending the 31st Annual University of Missouri Fire Rescue Training Institute’s (MUFRTI) Winter Fire School. As in years past, the conference planners were successful in arranging for the coldest Missouri weather possible for the weekend of their conference. As is also their tradition, they held it in Columbia, MO. For those of you unfamiliar with Columbia, it is the quintessential college town and commonly known as the “Athens of Missouri.” For those of you unfamiliar with Athens, it was where Aristotle invented the light bulb.
|Modern fire apparatus that are capable
of simultaneously putting wet stuff on the
red stuff, waking up the neighbors,
doing your taxes, and making the
perfect caramel macchiato
Each MUFRTI Winter Fire School begins with an equipment exposition on Friday night at the Holiday Inn Select. This year, the organizers wisely chose to move the larger apparatus to the exposition hall after a 17-engine pileup in the hotel restaurant last year. Apparently someone had falsely announced a free pizza buffet.
There were dozens of vendors selling everything from key chains to ladder trucks. FireMaster had a great booth, where I picked up a wiggy-waggy switchy-thingy for my truck. I even ran into several old acquaintances who were surprisingly willing to speak to me in public. To Shelly from Cox Air Care, Joe from 1st Due, Jonathan from Alex Air, and Dennis from LDCFM; it was great to see you!
|Mizzou’s Columns are the embodiment
of super-smart-stuff and my top choice for
the next obstacle in ABC’s Wipeout
Once upon a time, on a campus far, far away…
Stepping onto the campus of the University of Missouri was invigorating. Partially because the wind chill was approximately -10 F, but also because of the collegial atmosphere. Many of the people scurrying to and fro were clearly of the academic sort. Others were stumbling to and fro, and clearly of the inebriated sort. The whole scene brought back fond memories of my college days and my postdoctoral studies in fictional literature under the tutelage of Dr. Samwise Gamgee. Were it not for the imminent danger of hypothermia, I would have strolled the campus all day. But alas, it was time to stumble off to my first course.
“Modern Training Techniques”
Douglas Cline, Assistant Chief of Operations, Horry County Fire Rescue, Conway, SC
|Between his use of chalkboard, handouts,
video, Powerpoint, and iPad; Cline’s teaching
style appealed to more generations than AC/DC.
Cline was a very engaging presenter, which was good since I hadn’t yet had my fourth Mountain Dew of the morning. He focused on two important things rarely done in training: gap analysis and flipping the classroom. Gap analysis (at least as I understood it in the past) is the study of the massive gap between two numbers; 1) a training officer’s salary divided by the number of hours he/she spends at work, versus 2) the hourly wage of a Walmart greeter. Gap analysis studies have been blamed for training officers nationwide considering a mass transition to careers with Walmart.
So imagine my surprise when Cline proposed that a gap analysis is actually a technique for determining the steps to be taken in moving from a current state to a desired future state. The process consists of listing the characteristic factors of the present situation, cross-listing factors required to achieve the future objectives, and then highlighting the gaps that exist and need to be filled. Fascinating, huh?
But wait, there was more! Before I could wipe the slack-jawed amazement from my face, he hit us with another whopper: flipping the classroom. Imagine a training division where the cognitive domain learning is accomplished ahead of time in asynchronous fashion, then the students show up prepped to achieve psychomotor and affective domain learning with the instructor in real time. Cline described several ways in which this could be achieved in any fire department.
Sound crazy to you? If so, buckle up and prepare for turbulence. Training is about to get very rough for those who think that modernized education is just a fad. Don’t take my word for it, either. Among other things, Cline happens to be the President of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors and sports a 15-page curricula vitae. So run, don’t walk, to his next speaking engagement and thank me later.
“Escaping Violent Encounters for EMS/Fire”
Kip Teitsort, EMT-P, Founder of DT4EMS, LLC, Norwood, MO
Mike Novak, Battalion Chief, Branson Fire Rescue, Branson, MO
|Kip gave my photojournalism
two Ninja thumbs up
I went into this course with a little trepidation and tension. You see, I met Teitsort for the first time back in 2005 and knew he wasn’t a run of the mill paramedic. Standing next to him is kind of like standing next to an electrical substation. Curiosity makes you wonder where all that energy comes from, but self preservation tells you that messing with it could be fatal. He has experience in EMS, law enforcement, and martial arts the way Donald Trump has experience with handling money. Moreover, Chief Novak was his co-instructor. Novak is another acquaintance of mine, and despite being soft-spoken with an average build, I happen to know he can deadlift about 900 lbs. There were visions in my head of them using their old friend yours truly as a rag doll. I may or may not have vomited in the hallway outside the room.
Much to my relief, they started off the class with several rules to safeguard against anyone getting hurt (even skinny, weak, and arrogant EMS bloggers). Over the next four hours, we learned what no one else is teaching about violence against EMS & Fire personnel. It is more common than bloodborne pathogens, but we don’t require our people to learn about it. It is also as costly as any lifting injury, but most agencies don’t spend a dime to prevent it. Violence against field providers is on the rise yet few agencies are doing anything about it.
|When I visited Kip’s class,
we used high-speed cameras to confirm
an urban legend. The “Lightning DTP &
Primal Scream Uppercut,” a secret move
only taught within the ancient Shaolin Temple,
can in fact be performed by white guys.
We spent a fair amount of time learning basic movements to protect ourselves from attackers (not “patients,” as some would still call them; though the “patient” is trying to strangle an EMT). There was also a large portion of the class devoted to discussion of legal precedence and local policy. Here is where I began to ponder something. As I surveyed my classmates, I saw mostly young first responders. While I applauded them for learning skills to escape violent encounters in the field, I was still frustrated. The entry-level providers are not the only audience that needs this information. Chiefs and Administrators need to have their policy-writing butts in this class. Why? Because they are usually the harbingers of procedural change for an organization, not the providers. And believe it or not, many of our own departmental policies are making these attacks worse, both before and after the fact. But again, don’t take my word for it (actually, I would never advise taking anyone’s word for it). Teitsort’s message has been gaining momentum over the last several years and demands for greater scene safety are also coming from some of the leading voices in EMS.
This topic has either personal or third-party relevance to every field provider. It certainly does for me. Back in two-thousand-something-or-other, I may or may not have had a psychiatric patient go ape-sh@#-nuclear in my ambulance before trying to steal the apparatus. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice to say that I don’t leave the keys in the ignition anymore. But perhaps your story is more noteworthy. If so, then Teitsort is offering something too good to pass up. By sharing your harrowing tale, you could win Teitsort’s full 16 hr course for up to 24 people in your agency. Regardless of whether you win the contest or have to register for his next course the old fashion way, it is well worth your time. Head over to his site and check it out before your next shift.
“Bringing Today’s Technology into the Fire Training Classroom and Beyond”
Frank Lipski, BS, FF/EMT-P, Assistant Training Officer, Florissant Valley FD, Florissant, MO
|That awkward moment when
a terrible photographer makes
an innovative instructor appear dwarf-like.
Being a card-carrying tech/gadget nerd, this was one course I absolutely had to take. Lipski definitely filled the bill, too. By the time he was done, my iCup literally ranneth over with new tech ideas.
This wasn’t a tired old class on how to use PowerPoint. He kept us interested by demonstrating ways to integrate many of today’s popular media devices into fire service course design and departmental training programs. Moreover, he covered topics such as podcasting, cloud computing, web based calendars, paperless training records, copyright laws, and mobile computing beyond the classroom.
There were several things about Lipski’s presentation that I enjoyed. First, he had a very dynamic and flexible presentation style. It had a basic substructure, but he had built in enough space to tailor certain sections to the needs voiced by participants. Lipski freely admitted that his presentation changed every time, and saw this as a positive thing. It told me he was willing to meet his students where they were, instead of forcing them to hop on a one-way lecture on rails. Second, he encouraged use of laptops and mobile devices during his lecture. This is something many instructors are not comfortable doing. I have an axe to grind with those technophobic teachers, but I’ll save that for another post. Lipski even went to the trouble of finding MU’s wi-fi passcode for the building and making sure all of his students had it for his lecture. Bravo, sir, bravo! Many of these instructional strengths are also on display at Engine House Training LLC, a fire training collaborative in which Lipski plays a large role. Go check it out!
My Final Thoughts
|Alan Brunacini – Legendary Fire Chief,
author, and Hawaiian shirt connoisseur.
The MUFRTI Winter Fire School was a great experience for me, and I highly recommend it for anyone in Fire & EMS. The purveyors of knowledge mentioned above were but a few of the Fire & EMS Greats who graced this gathering. A lot of you might be on the fence about attending conferences on a shoestring training budget, and I get that. This conference is a lock for consistently solid training. The folks at MUFRTI know that it takes more than a PowerPoint and a different zip code to be considered an “expert.” The speakers coming to this conference are some of the best you’ll see, so here’s to seeing you there next year!