The best firefighters know when to get extreme

Understanding what it means to be extreme and when to do it will make you the best you can be — even at running rehab sectors


It seems normal is no longer in our vocabulary. There are extremes in all areas of our lives — extreme heat, cold, flooding, snow, wildland fires, mud slides, you name it.

Then there is the "biggie size" when you order your food. A small is now what was once a large. Nothing is small any more. It has all becoming extreme.

Our lives are extreme. Maybe it is part of the American culture — biggie size everything, right? Make it the extreme experience.

If we are in the era of extremes, why don't we do extreme training?

What is extreme?
We may have pushed the envelope using the term extreme by pushing our limits to the utmost. Do we really need to go to the extreme?

The answer lies partly in how you define extreme. Extreme is defined as reaching a high or highest degree or being very great.

This definition does not sound like a bad thing. We want the very best. If individuals want to be the best at what they do, they should push the limits to make themselves better.

We can look at this topic in two ways.

First, we should not push things above our limits. We should push forward and always try to better ourselves, but we don't need to make everything a biggie size.

If we think about the extremes of food and the biggie size, we need to change our mindset. Extremes in food results in extremes in body size. Our culture has become the culture of obesity. As a result, disease is running rampant in our society. We need to bring our size back to reasonable servings.

Weather the weather
Second, in contrast to getting away from the extremes in our eating, we need to get back to the extremes of training. If we are going to be good at what we do then we need to get off our backsides and get back to training.

The mind set in the fire service seems to have changed: 'Let's do training, but when it is convenient, and by the way, can we do it online?' We need to get back to training the way it was intended.

Doing an online class is not training; it is education. Can't figure out the difference. Let me help.

Your daughter comes home from school and tells you she is going to have sex training this year in school. What was the first thing you visualized. We immediately think of the action not the process. Hence, we should be training not just educating ourselves.

Balancing act
There are times for education and times for training, but without a balance of both we'll not have the knowledge and skills we need to do our job, which in many cases is under extreme circumstances.

Incident scene rehab training is no different. You can't experience setting up and managing a rehab sector by only reading about it. Get out and do it.

You should be practicing establishing and managing rehab at every training event. Get personnel used to having to go through rehab. Every meal you eat, every shift you work, practice rehab. Eat right, exercise, hydrate, and get to know the limitations of your body.

Extreme training should be part of our culture. It does not mean we work so hard that we collapse. It means to work to the highest degree to be the best we can.

When we have extreme weather it is the highest degree of heat, no pun intended, or the highest degree of flooding that could occur. Winter is fast approaching and we should not use that as an excuse to not train.

I know of a fire department that actually has it written in its collective bargaining agreement that they will only do training if it is below a certain temperature and above a certain temperature. Really? Give me a break. We function in extreme environments, we need to train in those environments so we know how we need to function when we are faced with those environments.

Be the best you can be at what you do. Go to the extreme and have the highest degree of trained personnel. It will pay dividends in the long run. 

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