Firefighters across OK train for various disasters

By: Morgan Downing Email
By: Morgan Downing Email

BRYAN COUNTY, OK -- Firefighters across Oklahoma are brushing up on their skills in Durant this weekend. Morgan Downing put on some gear and participated in the exercises. She shows us the ins and outs of firefighter training.

More than 140 firefighters, representing 41 fire departments across Oklahoma, are training to help keep not only us but themselves safe.

"Training is the most important thing a firefighter can do. Because it allows us to keep sharp our skills and to learn new things," Calera Fire Chief Brian Norton said.

These firefighters went through gear training and took to the field to learn wildfire and extraction tactics. And they completed this course, which is known as the "mayday exercise".

"It's designed to teach a fireman that when they get in a troubled situation while they're inside of a burning building or something to not delay and call for help so that way they'll hopefully be uninjured," Norton said.

The firefighters are sent in with about 50 pounds of gear, nd their masks are blacked out to simulate smoke. They're put through situations like this one -- a roof collapsing.

"You're concentrated in one area then all of a sudden we change everything up on you on the inside so your heart rate goes up, your breathing goes up and we're asking you a million questions and then we're trying to make you think of everything all at the same time just as if it was real," Norton said.

"It was tough trying to get through it without running out of air in your bottle," volunteer firefighter Tyler Latshaw said.

"It's crazy like when you really think that you could die and it shows that you can, but you have to fight through it and not give up," volunteer firefighter Eric Jeffers said.

After watching the firefighters fight through the course, I decided to suit up and give it a shot.

If a firefighter is lost inside a burning building and can't see a thing, they follow their hose out. At this point, I'm trapped in a closet and must call for help. The exercise was rigorous and tiring.

"We're hoping that they'll learn from this and then they'll also take this back to their department and train the guys inside their stations some of the stuff they learned," Norton said.

Some classes are mandatory, but most firefighters are volunteering. It's been five years since training this large has taken place on the Kiamichi campus. The Tech Center hopes to make this an annual event.


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