People acquire information not only by studying books, but also by studying human behavior. Students study in college and/or trade schools for their professions and some of those professions require a different type of learning. Some professions like firemen/women, paramedics and EMTs require specialized or practical application training.
Studying theory and reading about human behavior gives the people who join these professions an excellent foundation on which to practice their skills. It is the practice or the practical application of these theories that really give these professionals the edge when it comes to saving human lives; your lives.
The Mesquite Fire Department and especially Captain William Martinez, training officer for the MFD, believe very strongly in giving their department personnel, and you that edge.
On Saturday, May 21 a training event was held at the training center located at 3 John Deere Dr. This training event was essentially the cadets final exam before graduating the academy. After testing cadets go through the standard background checks, drug test and physicals they are required to pass before being hired as a reserve by the Mesquite Fire Department.
The type of training exercise that was implemented was referred to as ‘Echo’ training and simulates the most difficult situation a firefighter will face which is a multiple location, multiple victims, injuries and situations. Was everything executed perfectly? The answer to that question is no, but it will be when it comes to responding to the needs of the citizens of Mesquite. Captain Martinez strives for and expects perfection from his trainees. He’s willing to put in the training hours with his cadets and firefighters to achieve that goal.
When hired into the department the new part time reserve fire fighters agree to two 24 hours shifts and one 8 to 10-hour training shift per month.
During the training period, which lasts 16 weeks, cadets volunteer on the weekends for the fire department which is their payment to the department in exchange for the training they receive. The cadets are eligible to be certified through the state in Hazmat, Hazmat awareness and as a Fire Fighter I after this initial training period.
Martinez is very conscientious when it comes to training the cadets. He’s hard on them but for good reason. He says theory can be studied from every book written but it’s the practical application of that theory that needs to be focused on. Every situation and every person is different and if you don’t practice your skills on live people you won’t really have the knowledge and skills it takes to handle the actual emergency situations. Many of the department’s wives and children partake in the ongoing training events that take place monthly. Martinez wants Mesquite Fire and Rescue to be the most well trained department around because of the challenges they face as a team.
Mesquite is a small community which comes with all the bells, whistles and challenges both good and bad that comes with being a small community. Because size of the community and small budget allotted for fire fighters in Mesquite the department functions on just seven firefighters per shift to cover the entire population of 19,000 plus individuals. The other challenge Captain Martinez says he faces is the fact that Mesquite is a retirement town and most of the younger cadets seek employment in the larger cities. “They are hired on pretty quickly by other departments who value the training they’ve received with us, “said Captain Martinez.
Martinez said, “I’m not complaining about the challenges at all, I love Mesquite and God willing I will retire here and spend the rest of my days in this wonderful community. We do have some challenges to face and we face those challenges by ensuring that we have the most well trained department personnel we can. Mesquite firefighters have to be well trained and cross trained to handle the situation from first response to whatever comes along. Larger departments in metropolitan areas have battalion commanders, captains and leaders who take charge of the situation and see that everyone and everything flows smoothly, that everyone is doing their jobs effectively and efficiently. In Mesquite the firefighters are their own battalion commanders and our captains, deputy chief and chief are hands on firefighters.” said Captain Martinez.
Captain Martinez says he’s proud of the department and the training they receive and he wishes he could keep all of the cadets who have gone through this past academy but sadly, that won’t be the case. He does however wish them well and he’s confident that they will do great things in the departments who do hire them; they’ve gotten a great start.