I Tried

Blog For the Brave brings you “I Tried” by Capt. Craig

~Captain Craig has been in the fire service for 20 years.  He has been at the same department for 17 and as a captain for over a decade.  He holds multiple certifications in his home state and also works as a Lead Instructor at one of the biggest fire academies in the world.  An extremely busy person he also has a wonderful wife and two small children.  Several years ago he joined a “fire service cult” in Georgia and is number 987.~

I tried. I really did. I don’t like getting in Facebook debates but something I saw has to stop.
You cannot take a situation and add a “what if” if you don’t like the outcome presented.
Good company officers are just that, GOOD COMPANY OFFICERS. We trust these guys to make sound decisions in high stress environments repeatedly. The really good ones will later go through every marginal situational decision and determine if they were correct. They may do this on their own or with their peers. They will talk about their decisions with the crew. You want the crew to make the same decisions when you’re not there.
Adding a “what if” changes the situation. It changes the outcome which changes the decision.
WE ARE NOT IN THE BUSINESS of standing outside a building on fire and determining who may be alive or may not.
WE ARE IN THE BUSINESS of standing outside a building on fire and determining how far our skills, abilities, and training allows us to save.
Those skills, abilities, and training should be high. EXTREMELY HIGH.
If it’s not DO MORE. Practice skills under stress, get to the gym, stop eating crap, and train, train, TRAIN.
I know what I can and can’t do. I know what my crew can and can’t do. We train hard, work hard, study hard. That’s how we keep us safe so we can put the public’s safety first.
I know what my department can and can’t do. I live in my department’s territory for a reason. I chose to live here, near a station, rather than 15 miles the other way where it was cheaper. I was able to afford to live where my family was better protected.
My Company, my station, my shift, and my department are default aggressive.
Aggressive is defined as “pursuing one’s aims and interests forcefully, sometimes unduly so.”
I will pursue saving the lives of victims forcefully, even it means I may be injured.
No where does that say I will act stupidly, without purpose, or erratically. Don’t change the definition.
Grandma is standing in her house on fire screaming for help…. we go get her.
Grandma is inside the building that is fully involved, our gear burns if we try to enter. She has not been heard from, she did not call 911. We will extinguish and get to her as fast as possible.
My mind runs like a flowchart. Where is the fire? Where are the possible victims? What is the fastest way there? What is the fastest way to put out the fire?
You can always wonder what the outcome of training and discussion is when the incident actually happens later. I wondered this what our default aggressive mindset would do in the eyes of our younger members.
Then it happened. Our newest, youngest officer arrived first to a house on fire. He gave his crew orders as they were approaching, gave a good size up, and was in the process of doing a 360 while his crew stretched a line for a 1500 square foot house with flames blowing out of all the front windows. He encountered an open door on the backside. He could see a bed and that the interior door to the room was closed and the smoke level was 3 feet off the ceiling in a laminar flow. He slid in, searched either side, on top of, and under the bed, and slid out. “Captain my skills let me go in that room.” Then he shut the door as he exited. When he came back around the crew was knocking down fire and the crew right behind them helped enter, search, and extinguish.
Can you hear it? Feel it? Right now, there are people reading this who are rolling their eyes, popping their knuckles, and prepping their thumbs for the “what if”.
STOP IT.
“What if he would have become trapped?” He read the room correctly and was not.
“What if his SCBA had failed?” It did not, as he breathed out of it that morning when he checked it.
“What if there was a victim?’ There was not, but he gave them the best possible chance.
All of those things would have led to a different situation, different decision, and different outcome. You can do scenarios all day. But don’t what if the ones that happened. Don’t judge people on things they didn’t do in a situation that didn’t happen.
I don’t know Captain Dwyer. I wish I did, as I’d love to tell him “damn good job Captain. Sounds like your skills, abilities, and experience put you in the right place at the right time.” He was not injured, his crew was not injured, and he gave Sally Skrine the best possible outcome. May she rest in peace.
I know a lot of Atlanta firefighters, I’d imagine some of the best ones. Many of them have made a profound positive impact on my life.
Atlanta Fire and Rescue is default aggressive.
And that’s a good thing. We should all be.

#defaultaggressive #dannywouldgo #dontwhatifme

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Blog For the Brave is a blog series for first responders, military personnel, teachers and nurses and is brought to you by For the Brave.  Our contributors are the men and women that are in the trenches with you.  We discuss equipment, tactics, technologies and many other topics pertinent to our fields.  Thanks for reading and we hop that you will join the For the Brave community by following our other pages!

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1 Comment

Cathy Gilbreath
2020-02-12 at 3:02 PM

I can not imagine the choices you have to make or the dangers you face every day. The greatest respect and appreciation for what you all do!

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