By RYAN POLOMSKY
KENNESAW, Ga. – The firefighters of Cobb County and Fulton County are prepared for the worst of scenarios to ensure the safety of the county’s citizens.
No matter the level of experience, firefighters across metro Atlanta go through rigorous training exercises to ensure the safety of everybody at the scene. While training encompasses just about everything imaginable, there are still opportunities to learn from veteran firefighters at the station.
“The biggest thing I’ve been told is to always wear my air mask, because there’s so many different things that can catch on fire and you’re not sure if something is toxic,” said Fulton County firefighter Jason Clark. “It’s so simple, and yet this is the one of the best ways to protect yourself against cancer.”
Typically, full gear weighs around 75 pounds. Clark’s point shows how firefighters have to prepare for not just what’s in front of them, but hidden dangers as well.
Scott Dodson, who is a lieutenant for Cobb County with 22 years of service, explained just how in depth training can be.
Firefighters train for high-rise buildings, retail environments, residential homes, industrial areas, roads and interstates, railroad incidents, confined spaces, and water rescue, among others. While some stations may direct their focus more on certain situations and environments, firefighters are trained in all of these scenarios.
Firefighters can be likened to a Swiss Army Knife, with such an extensive background in training and experience, there is not much that can catch them off-guard. The majority of calls firefighters receive are medical in nature, with heart attacks and similar situations being the most common.
Dodson has been a paramedic for 20 years. He has drawn from this knowledge and experience several times.
“The nature of our jobs presents us with life threatening situations almost daily,” Dodson said. “I have been involved with structure fires where we rescued people and animals, car wrecks where we had to cut seriously injured people out of cars, and medical calls where we performed lifesaving procedures.”
While Dodson has over two decades of experience, Clark has just over two weeks’ worth, having just graduated from fire academy Feb. 4. Despite being new, Clark is gaining experience very quickly.
“We recently had a patient suffering from a severe asthma attack and could not come open his door,” Clark said. “We had training on forcing a door open in very little time. We put it to use as we forced the patient’s door open and gave him Albuterol to open his air passage long enough to get him to the hospital.”
Every day, firefighters put their training and experience to the ultimate test in order to save lives and protect their citizens. They have the highest regard for teamwork and safety. Firefighters rely not only on equipment and gear with their lives, but their fellow firefighters as well.
Entering a burning building to rescue trapped victims would unnerve anyone, but these men and women are prepared to tackle any obstacle without hesitation, knowing everyone on the team is fully capable of carrying out their role.