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Wednesday, December 1, 2010


The power company has mandatory safety training annually.

This is good, no? Of course it's good.

It's just that, in regard to their requirements for my job in the control center, I am already trained well in excess of power company standards in all the areas they are worried about through my fire department gig. Now if I was a field grunt, the story would be different. But, I'm not.

I've ducked the mandatory power company training for years, leaving them with a fresh photocopy of my most current EMS cert, professional caregiver CPR cert, and Haz Mat Ops cert every December.

Until this year. The bureaucracy decided that it was not going to be flexible this year. It was do the company-provided training, or forfeit the end-of-year 10% performance bonus.

OK, fine. Whatever. Money talks.

Oh, just so you know, there's only one day left this year that you can make it. Guess what. It's smack in between two 12-hour night shifts, from 0800-1500.

Freaking terrific. I'm not even sure that making me attend this between two night shifts, making for 31 working hours inside of 36 clock hours (with a couple of parking lot catnaps wedged in) is legal or not, but when you're talking about the year-end 10% performance check, I can try to stay awake for a few hours.


First off, it had been forever since I had seen first aid training videos not intended for emergency service professionals. The acting was worse, but it was the background music .... now that was so very realistic, just like the music we hear when our tones drop, when we drive to the calls, when we arrive. Very dramatic, just the way we like it piped in wherever we go with our big red trucks. Gripping. Perfect. I told my closest compadre in the class that we have a looping audio cassette in many of our rigs that plays that sort of music when we're running hot, just to get is in the hero mood groove.

I like how the video showed compressions-only CPR, with two people taking turns. Except that the person taking a break is doing nothing to maintain an airway. Airways are overrated, I guess.

Or how the instructor said that someone who is not breathing will always be in cardiac arrest. Don't assess for a pulse, just start compressions. ???

The review of how to read haz mat labels and MSDS sheets, something a shade beneath the annual haz mat ops training we go through every year at the FD.

Scene safety? What's that? The first-aid-trained actors arrived at a traffic accident at night and just left their car in the road without even hazard flashers on, never looked for scene safety problems, just waltzed straight into the thick of it.

I like how a rescuer actor carefully donned their PPE gloves before administering the Heimlich. That choking guy can just hang on while you go get your gloves, you know. Where did I put them anyway?

When doing the hands-on CPR run through, not even one person (except for me) managed to get chest rise from the practice doll. No matter. Next!

(Sorry this is so disjointed and choppy, my bad form comes from about three total hours of sleep over the previous 40 hours or so.)

A particular favorite scene: a couple of actors are talking, one asks the other, "So Kenny, how is that new project you're working on going?" Kenny opens his mouth, draws up a pained expression, and collapses. My compadre behind me wasted not even a second before piping up with "Oh my God! They killed Kenny!" FTW!!

Then we did Halon awareness training. Zzzzz.

And fire extinguisher inspections and discharge practice. I've taught this class myself many times. Zzzzzzzzzz.

Let us not forget I was up most of the day before, did 12 hours awake on shift overnight, and then had to sit through seven hours of this for my 10% check before rolling back into another 12 hours of babysitting power lines overnight. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

I didn't want to come off as a smartass, and was determined to keep my mouth shut. Still, a couple of times the instructor said some well-meaning but half-baked stuff that I felt obligated to do damage control on. It didn't go over with her very well despite my overly deferential approach, so I stopped trying. Oh well.

I did learn something new though. Our Halon tanks have symbol signage which clearly endorses pranking your friends with portable marine air horns. Note that there is no circle with a slash through the pranking action to imply prohibition. How cool is that?

Nap time. Please hold all 911 calls for about ten hours or so. Sorry my attitude sucks today, it's only temporary. Thanks.

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