Air management

South Whatcom firefighters play dodge ball during air management training exercise


The “Five D’s” of the dodge ball, according to “the great” Patches O’Houlihan in the movie “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story”, are: Dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge.

“If you get them under control,” proclaimed O’Houilhan during a practice session in the film, “no amount of bullets on earth can hit you.”

The South Whatcom Fire Authority would like to add a sixth “D” to this list, and it just might save a firefighter’s life.

Don’t exhaust your air.

On its Facebook page, South Whatcom Fire posted a video on Tuesday evening of crews training in the aircraft bay at Geneva station, focusing on air management or conservation skills. the air.

Their training method? A friendly dodge ball – although in this one everyone is carrying around 55 pounds of training equipment, including an air pack, and the winner is not the last man standing, but rather the last man with air.

And in this game, throwing balls into the (fire department) house is perfectly acceptable, even encouraged.

“It teaches you how to be physically active while learning to manage your air,” South Whatcom Fire Chief Dave Ralston said of the training method. “One of the things we do is see who can stay in the air the longest while playing. We are always looking for ways to conserve air. We use physical exercise to help us learn to do last air longer. “

These skills become crucial in the field, when firefighters must exert maximum physical effort while battling fires and maximizing their limited air supply at the same time.

Ralston said South Whatcom Fire used the dodge ball to work on these skills for about three years. It increases the body heat and heart rate of firefighters while training them to control the urge to breathe too deeply and too quickly during physical activity.

Teams from Geneva, Sudden Valley and Lake Samish participated in Tuesday’s practice, and firefighters are loving the competition the game offers.

“There is always bragging rights in the fire hall,” said Ralston. “There’s always competition – good, friendly competition. You mix up the fact that it’s a training element, and the guys really get down to it.

“We train a lot on search and rescue and a number of other skills that we need in the field, and that’s just one of the ways we’ve found to help our guys stay prepared. “


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