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Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Academy Week 1

The Sunday before the academy we met as a class to meet each other and to go over some basic facing movements. We decided that the best way for us to survive the academy was to bond together in a "us vs. them" mentality. So with that in mind we all decided to cut our hair (since some of us already sported the near shaved head look). On day one we all met at a about 0545, in a parking lot down the street from the drill tower, in the rain, to make sure we all had our names on our uniforms in a uniform way. A little excessive, maybe. We also made sure that everyone had the same socks on (we didn't go so far as the underwear but it was discussed). We wanted to make sure that no one stuck out as a target.

Our drill tower. You can see a couple of our roof props in the background.

Once in the academy we were lined up by engine companies. Every recruit would have an opportunity to be a follower and a leader during the academy, helping to teach us qualities like, responsibility, chain of command and leadership. Once lined up we were introduced to a firefighter who was a former Navy SEAL. It was his job to get us acquainted with the academy and each other. We learned not to like him too much. We played some fun games like "line up, single file, by age, oldest to youngest, in the next 30 seconds or run (distances varied)" or "Line up in reverse alphabetical order in 30 seconds or do push ups." These were not a fun games. We almost always lost. Another thing he had us do was race for a 5 minute break. We had to pick one recruit that could run up the tower, raise a hose with a rope, go back down and move a skid with a sledge hammer. If the recruit was able to do this in under 2 minutes we got a break. The hard part was next time we wanted a break we had to beat the previous recruits time to get it.

We also quickly got into the academic portion of the academy with quizzes every couple of days. We always had to meet the standard which was 80%. So when we got home we nursed our sore bodies and studied. Some of us a lot more than others. One of the guys from my department and I didn't spend that much time studying at all. After paramedic school this was a breeze. Other recruits would spend hours each day. I don't know how they did it.

Forcible entry day
We had a USAR tower as well where we learned how to get people out of all types of difficult situations. If you look carefully there is a car smashed above these recruits. This is where we practice what was learned in the bay bridge collapse.

That first week we were issued tools. Some recruits received axes, some sledge hammers, yet others were issued halligans or pike poles. They were in deplorable condition. They had been dulled, rusted, spray painted, taped and damaged in any way the instructors could manage. We were instructed that these were to be our tools for the rest of the academy. We were to clean them up and make them better than new. We had to carry them with us everywhere we went. If we ever forgot them there would be adverse consequences. Some of the guys had to to major repairs, others just had to shine their tool up. We were also told that we had to name our tools. I was given a flat head axe with a fiberglass handle and I named her Samantha. Other names included Bam Bam and Chocolate Thunder.

We also learned that the academy has a tradition of a class guidon. The previous class creates their guidon and the next class carries it with them where ever they go to help them remember those that have gone on before them. The instructors informed us that they would be looking for the time(s) that we were going to leave the guidon unattended. We were allowed to post the guidon in one of three spots; outside the classroom when we were in class, in front of our locker room when we were on break, or in front of the drill tower while we were on the training grounds. And it had better not be left posted in an incorrect location. Let the fun begin.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i can't stop laughing. i may call you and laugh some more. They made you name your tool...lOL!

I feel light headed.

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