Training with the New York Fire Department

08 November 2019 Virginia Brookes

Vb Blog 3

As my last post mentioned, this was still the highlight of my trip from the Big Apple. While I knew we would be carrying out some training whilst we were there, I had no idea what training though and to say that I conquered some fears was an understatement and some of these I am incredibly proud of!

First up, we donned full firefighters attire, including the helmet, and let me tell you it's heavy, really heavy! Add on the helmet, the breathing apparatus, and oxygen tanks, and I think it was almost close to half my bodyweight again. As someone who has developed a fair bit of claustrophobia since having children, having to climb 4 steps of stairs to the “top of a small building,” I was nervous having to wear the full breathing apparatus and having to breathe through the oxygen masks to get to the top! While there were plenty of masks and helmets being ripped off, I was determined to do it and I did! I guess this fear stems from the fact that I like to be totally in control, and having to rely on an apparatus to breath doesn’t feel at all like control to me!

Next up was climbing on my hands and knees through a purpose-built apartment filled with thick Hollywood smoke! Having been exposed to panic attacks in my mid 20’s as soon as I went into this apartment, I could feel this panic waking for the first time in 20 years! Before we went into the apartment full of smoke, the Captains taught us about box breathing and wow, did I rely on this! Once I calmed down and imagined this could be a real-life situation, I started to practice the box breathing, calmed myself down, and I successfully managed to get in and around the apartment, rescue the baby “doll” from the bathroom and get out... I was absolutely blown away that I could have done this, and I feel that this has given me new confidence to achieve new things - this took me right out of my comfort zone!

Some things I took away from these 2 exercises were:

  • stepping out of your comfort zone can help you achieve great things
  • Fears can be conquered in a safe environment
  • You can rely on more senses than just your eyes to guide you through intense situations
  • Steady breathing is the master of getting through tense situations
  • Most of our jobs are nowhere near as stressful as truly putting your own life on the line to rescue others

Next up is the jaws of life, putting out a car fire and pushing milk crates with a fire hose!