Prepare Your Mind For Where Your Body Will Have to Go

“Instructors should be teaching our men and women how to be successful, not to settle for failure–how to live, not die,” advocates Firefighter Ric Jorge, Palm Beach County (FL) Fire Rescue. In Thursday’s “The Courage Within” class, Jorge demonstrated how panic and anxiety can lead to disorientation and affect the decision-making process and introduced students to fire service training models that can help them manage these problems.

Students were encouraged to “prepare your mind for where the body will have to go.” They were reminded that in adverse circumstances on the fireground, firefighters do not rise to the occasion but instead default to their level of training.” Consequently, Jorge advised: “If the devil is in the details, learn to train in hell’s conditions.”

Maintaining that “you gain mastery by converting your weaknesses into strengths, Jorge explained that adequate and successful training are needed—drills that are “realistic and intense.” Instructors, he adds, are key to realizing this objective; success will not come if the instructors “do not make it  happen.” 

The fire service, Jorge says, has had a “long history of failure-based training,” in which the prevailing mindset is that our people have to fail to win. This teaches the student that failure is okay. “When the situation is for real, a real fire and under real circumstances, then the firefighter is left with how he was trained,” Jorge reminded the students. “Our people need to be taught how to mitigate problems properly, how to react properly based on a training model that has allowed for options under stressful situations with outcomes that are positive.”

 The “success-based training” Jorge advocates involves the following:

 • Understanding how people learn under realistic conditions and training them under these conditions.

 •  Pushing people beyond their limits safely, helping them to develop mental and physical toughness while keeping anxiety levels in check.

• Allowing for “options” in learning—for example, not stopping a drill because someone wants to tap out. The drill goes on and does not stop until the student self-extricates or is removed by the rapid intervention crew.

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