Public Officials Step into Shoes of First Responders

More than 50 mayors, city council members, county commissioners, city managers, state representatives, a county sheriff and other public officials from Florida and across the country will get a hands-on feel on what it is like to be a fire fighter and paramedic at a day-long interactive training session hosted by the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) at the Broward County Fire Academy in Davie, Fla. on June 11, 2003.

FIRE OPS 101 will put public officials through a series of realistic firefighter exercises, including riding on a fire engine, rescuing a victim from a smoke filled structure, feeling the heat of a flashover and performing defibrillation on a victim of cardiac arrest. Participants will wear full protective clothing and equipment for the exercise, including self-contained breathing apparatus and mask.

The training is designed to educate public officials to the realities and risks of being a fire fighter and a first responder. The IAFF plans to hold similar workshops with community leaders in the future.

"There is no better way for public officials to learn first hand what firefighters and paramedics really do and get a better understanding of the dangers and stress involved in their daily jobs than to go through a program like this," said Harold Schaitberger, general president of the IAFF. "It gives new meaning to esoteric words like response times and safe firefighter staffing."

Thirteen fire departments, more than 30 fire-service training instructors and IAFF local affiliates from across Southern Florida are involved in conducting the workshop.

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