Firefighting is dangerous work. The conditions are harsh & life threatening, the visibility poor and hazards are around every corner. Within an instant (and often without warning) a floor or ceiling can collapse or a firefighter could get disorientated & lost within a building. Firefighters are the one’s called to help, so who helps the firefighter when they get into trouble and how do they call for that help? In the Fire Service the standard call for help from fellow firefighters is the Mayday call.
For the July 2013 Company Training at Highland Park Volunteer Fire Department, “Calling the Mayday: Hands on Training for Firefighters” was introduced, discussed & drilled to give firefighters better understanding of when & how to call the Mayday.
Members from the South Old Bridge Volunteer Fire Company, who are certified to teach & train the course, were on hand at HPFD Station 37. The course is certified by the United States Fire Administration National Fire Academy & American Heat.
The course consisted of a lecture portion where Mayday conditions (or parameters) were discussed and videos were shown illustrating the importance of calling for help. Ego and pride often get in the way for a firefighter having to call for help and the delay in doing so is often the difference to avoid serious injury. This was discussed at length with the HPVFD members. The HPVFD Standard Operating Guidelines (SOG’s) for calling a Mayday & the process afterward were also discussed at length.
After the classroom portion, HPVFD Firefighters donned full personal protective gear, with breathing apparatus & all. Each member had their mask/face piece obscured with wax paper, so visibility through the hands-on training portion was zero.
The drill itself was within the apparatus bay in HPVFD Station 37. Members crawled on their knees, or dragged themselves fully prone following a hose line. Several situations were presented while following the hose line, with members having to call for a Mayday before being “rescued” and then they continued. Some key take-a-ways were knowing when to call the Mayday, getting to radios/microphones/communications, communicating clearly, remaining calm, managing air & working with equipment under stressful situations.
A big thank you to the members of South Old Bridge who came to HPVFD Station 37 & delivered a fantastic training. We are grateful for your expertise in making us all better firefighters after Sunday’s training.