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    Fire Department completes 8,500 training sessions a year

    Wright-Patt Fire Department Conducts Fire Training

    Photo By Wesley Farnsworth | A firefighter with the Dayton Airport fire department sprays a fire on an aircraft...... read more read more



    Story by Wesley Farnsworth 

    88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

    WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – The 788th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department always aims for lofty milestones to make sure it is prepared to safeguard people and infrastructure in an emergency.

    “We conduct formal training three days a week, and informal training as opportunities arise,” said Bryan Weeks, the Fire Department’s assistant chief for training. “By the end of the year, we end up logging about 8,500 training sessions, which equals out to between 300 and 400 hours of training.”

    It’s Weeks’ job to plan these trainings, which are over and above the mandated computer-based model and quarterly base exercises for the entire department.

    “I create the annual training plan, develop the monthly training schedule and then oversee hands-on practical application with trainings,” Weeks said. “If we need to complete any joint training with outside agencies or some type of specialty training where a specialized instructor or specialized equipment is required, I coordinate that to ensure the training is executed.”

    The Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Fire Department is unique in that it has three different fire stations. Each one focuses on its own specialty, along with maintaining the availability to respond to fire emergencies, emergency medical services calls, alarm activations and providing welfare checks.

    In Area A, Station 1 focuses on technical rescue, while Station 2 is equipped for aircraft emergencies. On Area B, Station 3 works to contain any hazardous materials response.

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

    “Our fire personnel may be assigned to work at any of the three fire stations at any given time,” Weeks said. “So everyone is trained, certified and maintains proficiency training in all of these specialties.”

    Joint training

    Base firefighters use some of these training opportunities to build upon the relationships formed 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 also conduct joint training with the 445th Airlift Wing and the Dayton Airport Fire Department.”

    These joint sessions often take place at the WPAFB Fire Department’s training area on the back side of Area A, which features structural, technical rescue and aircraft trainers capable of conducting live-fire and realistic training events.

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

    On occasion, base firefighters respond to calls for help in the local community through a mutual-aid agreement. That is when the joint training really pays dividends.

    “When we go ... to somebody else’s backyard to fight fire or help mitigate a hazard, these joint trainings help provide that recognition of personnel and the sound of familiar voices on the radio,” Weeks said. “It also helps each of us become familiar with the other department’s tactics and strategies, which allows us to understand how to conduct ourselves not only as a crew but also being integrated into other crews during operations on a true emergency.”

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

    In a HAZMAT situation, for example, when a mutual-aid call arrives, the local fire department automatically gets five specialized technicians, including a supervisor qualified as a safety officer, Weeks said.

    “That’s a huge benefit, especially for some of these outside agencies that may not have technicians on duty for that shift or in the department that is requesting assistance,” he said. “They know that all of us working on shift have HAZMAT technician training, and this allows the opportunity to contain the situation while waiting for a HAZMAT team to assemble and respond.”

    Building capacity, experience

    The training, while great for off-base use, plays just as important a role for calls the department handles inside the gates while supporting the more than 30,000 people who work across the installation.

    “Our training is extremely important; it allows us to maintain our level of knowledge and experience to handle calls properly” said Jared Spaeth, a 788 CES firefighter and paramedic. “I’ve got experience working at departments outside the base as well, and I think our training program is probably the best in the area.”

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

    “In 2004, we started the process of setting up 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 state of Ohio EMT certification.”

    The continual training also provides a level of familiarity for the individual firefighters themselves.

    “One of the trainings we do is running mega codes, which is doing multiple things like CPR, connecting the monitor, starting the IVs and doing the airway skills that we would have to do for somebody who’s in cardiac arrest,” he said.

    “Those types of things make it much easier to transition into an actual scenario because you just practiced it. You just looked at the monitor, you just saw what that rhythm is going to look like. Now, you have a patient who is in that position, but there is level a comfortability to it, so it makes it easier to do your job.”

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

    After encountering a patient demonstrating subtle neurological signs and stroke symptoms, he recalled a training session he recently had given.

    “It brought me back to something that I taught, which helped me identify what might be going on with the patient,” he said. “She was passing all the tests that were given, but we had a suspicion that she was having some kind of neuro thing going on, so we were able to send her to the proper facility where they could diagnose it with the stroke right away, versus sending her somewhere that wouldn’t be appropriate for her situation.”

    The WPAFB Fire Department is always in training mode, even outside the three scheduled days during the week, officials said.

    “We firmly believe that there is always a training opportunity to be had when on calls or in our downtime to make sure we are prepared for that next call,” Weeks said.



    Date Taken: 12.01.2021
    Date Posted: 12.01.2021 12:10
    Story ID: 410220

    Web Views: 313
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