Wednesday, October 14, 2015

For JBER firefighter, it all comes down to training

by Airman Valerie Monroy
JBER Public Affairs

10/14/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Before jumping out of a firetruck, he has no preconceptions. He doesn't think of what the situation requires of him.

As soon as he steps into the chaos, everything clicks. Everything around him comes into focus.

He understands that every small piece of knowledge that others have shared with him now comes into play.

His mind takes over and his body simply follows. Everything comes down to training.

Airman 1st Class Jammie Garcia is a 673d Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter who relies on his training.

Garcia's day starts off with checking all the equipment on the trucks. He makes sure everything is in perfect working order before moving on to other tasks.

"Once a week we'll test everything," Garcia explained.

Classroom training follows tests. The classes are usually medical refreshers or reviews of vital firefighting information, Garcia said.

Garcia said he needs to meet monthly training requirements.

Putting out fires under varying circumstances, and search and rescue area few examples of Garcia's firefighting training.
"You know, you have those days where you're out training and it's snowing, and it sucks, but you take a step back and realize it's pretty cool stuff," Garcia said.

Apart from the firefighter's day-to-day activities, fire emergencies happen at any time.

"Usually we'll start getting calls around nine in the morning," Garcia said. "We'll manage our work around how many calls we get."

Though 673d CES firefighters have primarily been occupied with medical emergencies, winter means they will respond to more car accidents.

In order for Garcia to stay ready for his job, he must stay physically prepared for any emergency.

"Staying fit is absolutely necessary," Garcia said.

Along with keeping his body in shape, mental preparedness is also expected. Studying vital information needed to perform his job and knowing the standard operating procedures is important, Garcia said.

"It's a lot of reviewing things we learned in technical school, there are many exact numbers we need to know for certain things we do," Garcia said. "One of the hardest parts is remembering everything."

Garcia said technical school involved learning basic medical-response skills like checking vitals, taking blood pressure and stopping bleeding.

Eventually, firefighters learn on-the-job skills including how to best use their tools and equipment, how to fight multiple types of fires and fire rescue, Garcia said.

While training and preparation help get the job done, it's doesn't make thing easy. That's why every firefighter has to give their best at all times.

"The feeling of helping others motivates me to perform my job to the fullest potential," said Airman 1st Class Joseph Pyun, 673d CES firefighter. "There is no greater feeling than being thanked for doing your job."

"There is not much you can do to prepare yourself for everything you can possibly see on any emergency," Garcia said.

No matter how hard a day proves to be for 673d CES firefighters, they know they all have each other at the end of the day.

"I love how everyone in the department can come together as a family," Garcia said. "You don't get that in all jobs."

"The family aspect changes my mindset from having a job in the Air Force to having a career in the Air Force," Pyun elaborated.

"I am always looking forward to going into work because not only are they my coworkers, but they're my family and friends as well."

Garcia said he didn't know firefighting was a possibility in the Air force but as soon as he saw it, he knew it was the job for him.

Even now, a year into the job, Garcia said he still has the same feelings toward his profession.

"My favorite part after any kind of emergency is when they say thank you," Garcia said. "You're just doing your job, but it's a great feeling."

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