The fire department conducts 8,500 training sessions per year> Wright-Patterson AFB> Post display

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR BASE, Ohio – The 788 Civil Engineer Squadron fire department always aims high milestones to ensure it is ready to protect people and infrastructure in an emergency.

“We run formal training three days a week and informal training as opportunities arise,” said Bryan Weeks, deputy chief of fire department training. “At the end of the year, we register around 8,500 training sessions, which equates to between 300 and 400 hours of training. “

It is Weeks’ job to plan these trainings, which go beyond the mandatory IT model and quarterly core exercises for the entire department.

“I create the annual training plan, develop the monthly training program, and then oversee the practical application with trainings,” Weeks said. “If we need to do joint training with external agencies or some type of specialist training that requires a specialist instructor or specialist equipment, I coordinate that to make sure the training is carried out. ”

The Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Fire Department is unique in that it has three different fire stations. Each is focused on their own specialty, while maintaining availability to respond to fire emergencies, emergency medical service calls, alarm activations and wellness checks.

In zone A, station 1 focuses on technical rescue, while station 2 is equipped for air emergencies. In zone B, station 3 strives to contain any intervention relating to hazardous materials.

All require specialized training, which each person in the department receives annually.

“Our firefighters can be assigned to any of the three fire stations at any time,” Weeks said. “So everyone is trained, certified and maintains competency training in all of these specialties. “

Joint training

Base firefighters take advantage of some of these training opportunities to build on relationships with local fire departments.

“Dayton and Springfield both have HAZMAT teams, while Piqua and Mad River Township have dive teams that we work with,” Weeks said. “We are also conducting joint training with the 445th Airlift Wing and the Dayton Airport Fire Department.”

These joint sessions often take place in the WPAFB Fire Department training area, behind Area A, which includes structural, technical and aircraft rescue coaches capable of conducting airborne events. real and realistic shooting training.

“A lot of agencies don’t have access to this training environment and training facilities,” he said. “So having the opportunity and availability to work with these agencies during training – and not just in real emergencies – is a benefit not only for us, but for them as well. “

Occasionally, base firefighters respond to calls for help from the local community through a mutual aid agreement. This is where joint training really pays dividends.

“When we go (…) to someone else’s backyard to fight a fire or help mitigate a hazard, these joint trainings help provide that staff recognition and the sound of familiar voices on the radio.” , Weeks said. “It also helps each of us become familiar with the tactics and strategies of the other department, which allows us to understand how to behave not only as a crew, but also as part of being integrated with other crews on operations. in a real emergency. “

Through the community agreement, the Wright-Patterson AFB Fire Department can also provide assistance when local services may not be able to respond as quickly as needed due to the volume of calls they encounter on a daily basis. .

In a HAZMAT situation, for example, when a self-help call comes in, the local fire department automatically obtains five specialist technicians, including a qualified supervisor as a security guard, Weeks said.

“This is a huge advantage, especially for some of those outside agencies who may not have service technicians for this shift or in the department requesting help,” he said. declared. “They know that all of us who work as a team are trained as HAZMAT technicians, which helps contain the situation while waiting for a HAZMAT team to come together and respond. “

Capacity building, experience

Training, while ideal for off-base use, plays an equally important role in the calls that the service handles inside the doors while supporting the more than 30,000 people who work in the facility.

“Our training is extremely important; this allows us to maintain our level of knowledge and experience to properly handle calls, ”said Jared Spaeth, 788 CES firefighter and paramedic. “I have also worked in non-base services and I think our training program is probably the best in the area. “

One thing that sets this training program apart from the medical side is the base site code for EMT certifications in Ohio.

“In 2004 we started the process of setting up the training by getting guys certified to teach the program, and by 2007 we were up and running,” Spaeth said. “Now we have the ability to teach courses and give certification credit to people for their Ohio State EMT certification. “

Continuing education also provides a level of familiarity for the firefighters themselves.

“One of the trainings that we do is to perform megacodes, which do several things like CPR, connecting the monitor, starting IVs, and exercising airway skills that we would have to do for someone. who is in cardiac arrest, ”he said.

“This stuff makes it a lot easier to transition to a live script because you’ve just practiced it.” You just looked at the monitor, you just saw what this rhythm will be like. Now you have a patient who is in that position, but there is a comfort level, so it makes your job easier. “

This exact scenario recently unfolded for Spaeth on a real-world call.

After meeting a patient with subtle neurological signs and symptoms of stroke, he recalled a training session he had recently given.

“It brought me back to something that I taught that helped me identify what might be going on with the patient,” he said. “She was going through all the tests that were given to her, but we suspected that she was suffering from some kind of neurological problem, so we were able to send her to the appropriate facility where they could immediately diagnose the stroke, rather than to send him somewhere that would not suit his situation.

The WPAFB fire department is still in training mode, even outside of the scheduled three days a week, officials said.

“We strongly believe that there is always a training opportunity to be had on calls or during our downtime to make sure we are ready for the next call,” Weeks said.