Firefighters deprived of senses for special training

Specific drills to test a firefighter's attention to detail under stress

RAPID CITY, S.D. – How would you react if your sight, your voice and your hearing was taken away in a situation where your life or someone else’s could be in danger?

That’s what Rapid City firefighters were training for Wednesday at Vickie Powers Park.

Lt. Jim Bussell, with the Rapid City Fire Department, explained the procedure.

“So this is called the SCBA or Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus Confidence Course. We want our firefighters to be confident wearing their gear and wearing their breathing apparatus. We want them to understand how they have to move, how they have to manipulate that pack to navigate some of the narrow areas.”

Making sure that everyone is on the same page is key. Communication is difficult, and having the right team can mean everything.

Marshall Keefe, a firefighter and medic with Rapid City Fire Department, has the sixth fastest team in the world in the 3M Scott Firefighter Challenge, and individually, is the 27th fastest in the world.

“We do everything as a team. You know, you see in Hollywood, you got the one guy doing all the work. Well that’s not necessarily the case,” Keefe explained. “You have a team; you have a crew. If you’re by yourself, you probably screwed up a little bit. You should always have that crew; you should always have at least one partner – as they call it.”

The training is psychological as much as it is physical. It’s important to know your equipment, know your surroundings and most importantly, to trust your team in tense situations.

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