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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Firefighter Safety - wear your seatbelts

Recently I attended on-duty training put on by the department. I cannot remember what the class was or everything that was discussed. That isn't important either and my memory sucks. However, it was some of the best training I have ever had. Does that make sense? Not yet, but it will.

I learned something in that training, and the way I see it if I learn something then the class was worthwhile.

What did I learn? To wear my seatbelt all the time in fire apparatus.

Yeah I know what you are saying "You just learned that". The answer is NO, but this time it stuck. I wear my seatbelt ALL of the time in my POV, however not all the time in the firetruck.

But that all changed. Now let me explain.

When I came to the department we had open cabs, no not topless, but the back of the jumpseats were open. I usually stood up if the weather was good and faced forward to see what was going on. To and from the scene I was rarely buckled in. The rare exception was if the driver scared me with their skills (or lack there of).

The one exception to wearing my seat belt in apparatus was when I was driving, I always wore it then.

Now that I have outed myself, let me explain why.

Ever since I had children, I began realizing that I was not invincible and that if I was hurt because I was being stupid I wouldn't be the only one effected. I have learned that all this "Safety" stuff has a purpose: To save Firefighter's Lives.

So there I was, if I was driving I wore it, if not I didn't. Then I started riding the seat as the officer occasionally.

Once you go from driver to riding the seat you loose the control of the wheel. This is not very easy to do, especially with an inexperienced driver. I can always tell when I scare my officer when I am driving, because they frantically reach to put on their seatbelt.

I have seen picture after picture of apparatus accidents where firefighters die because they weren't wearing their seatbelts. What made me feel that I would walk away in a similar circumstance. I have been in close calls. I remember one close call, due to a citizens stupidity in trying to outrun an engine, that I almost killed him with the ladder truck. If I hadn't of seen him at the last minute he would have died. I am certain. After the investigation, it would have been found that I had the green light and he wasn't paying attention to me while trying to outrun an engine coming from the other direction. Both us and the engine were running lights and sirens and were going to the same call. Would I have been hurt if I didn't have my seatbelt on if we had collided? Probably, but he would have taken the brunt of the force of the accident. Luckily, no one was injured.

So there I was in that class which I don't remember and I made a pledge to myself that I would always wear my seatbelt and make sure to be a positive role model to my brother/sister firefighters and encourage them to wear theirs as well.

At my station, we have a poster encouraging seatbelt use. Although many firefighters have added a little artistic touch to the poster, it still gets the point across.

With all of the added danger of responding to emergencies, it only makes sense to wear your seatbelts. NO EXCUSES...WEAR YOUR SEATBELTS.

To read more on the National Seatbelt Pledge, visit the website here.

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