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  • TimmVD
    Wow. First off, thank you for all the help. Unforunently, my internet died, and I could respond yesterday, as I wanted to.

    Secondly. Wow. I really screwed up telling the IMPORTANT parts of the story. And for that, I'm sorry.

    I am a fire explorer, and a student in the NEVAC fire and life safety program, I am NOT a fire fighter.

    Our team was stuck because Danny (the leader) was trying to get by something (I dont exactly remember what) and I thought I should stay in contact with Kelsey (middle person). I did tell them I was starting to panic, but we couldn't really go anywhere, because we were a pretty new company to this trailor, and Danny was still figuring out the obsticle. I wasnt "stuck," like I was trying to navigate an obsticle, I just could no longer move forward, and I didn't want to lose contact with Kelsey, so I didn't back up.

    When it got to the point when I ended up backing out and removing the helmet and mask, I was instructed to do so by two of the advisors. That wasnt my first idea. I tried for those 3 minutes (ish, you had a valid point, it may not have actually been 3 minutes) to remain calm. It didnt work. Not good.

    Thirdly, After I got out, and had calmed down, I really wanted to go back in, but wasnt allowed to, do to wanting to make sure my head/body were actually calm, and not that I just thought I was calm... (makes sense?)

    Fourthly, Today, during the NEVAC class, I went through it again, No pack, no mask, no smoke, just the bunkers and no light conditions. (trailor was closed) I had no problems this time. We are going to "ease into it" in the class. Monday we go in off air, no smoke, with packs... (not sure about masks too or not) Then tuesday we go in on air, if I remember correctly.

    Finally, Thanks for all your help, Maybe this new info will help you a little more, I dont know. It's been pretty well nailed shut now.

    PS... I dunno why we werent on air. The smoke is just a fog machine with peanut oil. Maybe thats why?

    Leave a comment:

  • summermist21FD
    i couldn't of said it any better then the people who posted before me.

    Leave a comment:

  • bcarey
    Interesting, since it inolves some of what I like to research and write about.
    First of all, you need to go through this obstacle/trailer again, and on air.

    "I had never been in the trailor before, but I HAVE been in search and rescue situations with the mask blacked out, with out being on air. That has never bothered me."

    Sizeup, sizeup, sizeup. Try to make it a habit now so it will become secondary when you run calls. I'm not necessarily talking about the COALWASWEALTH sizeup, but the picture in your head of what you're getting into. Granted, it is a trailer, and you had not been in it before, but it is a trailer and not the Taj Mahal. Later you stated you were used to being in a similar situation, a tunnel. This time, judging by the dimensions you calculated using your frame, you were in a much more open area. The brain registers experience and files it for recall during fight or flight. If the brain can't match a experience from the past to what you presently experience, anxiety floods the frontal lobe, the part that tells you to do things in order, and the natural action of perseverance takes over, i.e. pulling off your mask. That, alone proves the point of not having a picture in your mind of what your are doing, what you are feeling, your own orientation. You stated you were fine once you backed up and took off your mask and helmet. Notice, you were still in the trailer, and I'm going to assume it was still just as dark.

    "I was the last man in a team of three, and our team was held up after a incline/decline obsticle. I was on the decline side of the obsticle, with about a body and a half wide, by about a body wide, versus the "normal" body and a half X body and a half. My head was at the bottom of the hill, with my feet raised above them."

    If you were the last man, you should have yelled out to the ones ahead of you that you were stuck (?). You've got to communicate. Did you not say anything because you wanted to save face? look good in front of the instructor? A factor behind why PASS devices sometimes are not activated or maydays are not called out.

    "After about 3 minutes stuck like this, I started to panic."

    That is three minutes too long (and we wonder why we ignore PASS devices). Were you laying still the entire time? If you were stuck, you should have called out. This goes back to the first statement; what am I stuck on? did I get turned around? what happened to the wall on my side? Some examples of continually orienting yourself. You have to map the room in your mind or you'll take two rights, fall over a chair and be just as lost as if you are Hong Kong. Seriously, the three minutes could be that it felt like three minutes or it actually was three minutes. Either way, that is too long to be laying there and not doing something. Again, you need to back through the course on air. You're not going to have three minutes to play with on jobs.

    "I've been stuck in a situation like this before, when I was blacked out but not on air with out smoke, but i was still working my way through the tunnel, so the fact I was trapped in a small box hadnt bothered me. I ended up having to back up so I could get my helmet, hood, and mask off, and then I was fine."

    You were used to the small box because you could picture it, you had been through it, and your mind was expecting it again. But you were as good as being in the middle of a football field when you were stuck, because you didn't picture what you were feeling, or not feeling, and you didn't orient yourself. Note, you did find your way back to where you could remove your facepiece and helmet, so some part there was familiar and told your mind, "hey I'm okay here, this spot". And, you were on air, or weren't you? It is hard to determine.

    "Any idea what that was, what caused it, and how I can prevent it?"
    Nerves, lack of confidence, over confidence, doesn't really matter. You most likey looked at like "a trailer" and stopped there. Assuming your instructors told you that there would be some layouts, obstacles to challenge you, you let that go over your head and went in presuming the worst.
    What does matter is:

    1. Sizeup.
    2. Communication.
    3. Practice as real as possible. Use air, use the PASS device.
    4. Think. Think. Think. "Okay, I'm heading down head first, my feet are snagged, I can't feel the wall on either side. 'hey guys, I'm stuck back here!' Active PASS device."

    That will build your confidence. Remember, most dwellings aren't all laid out with the same floor plan, If they were then our mazes and smoke rooms would be built just like 123 Main Street.

    I used to tag along with my father, an instructor here in Maryland, and they used a trailer setup as part maze and part smoke room. I saw many a big burly guy taking his first firefighter class, going into the maze, of the smoke room, and getting a bit disoriented, then yelling, screaming, ripping off the facepiece. The tip I learned early on: it is what it is. A maze. A smoke room. It isn't a trap, it isn't an open elevator shaft, it isn't something that I won't ever see on a job.

    I used to pass on to new guys that if your felt you were getting disoriented, stop, take your handlight and place it on the floor shining up. Such a simple little thing makes you concentrate on a small task; slows your breathing down; clears your mind and gives you a feeling of being anchored, like, okay, I'm not hanging upside down, the floor is still there, I can see myself, etc. It's like regrouping your mind so you can start again at step 1 "where am I?".

    I hope you go back through it, more than once, and on air. If you think you need to practice, then blindfold yourself and go through your home; go through a friend's home, the bunkroom at your firehouse, wherever; you'll see how easy it is to picture where you feel you are.
    William Carey
    Last edited by bcarey; 01-19-2007, 12:21 AM.

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  • FlyingKiwi
    Not sorry here.

    Somwhere in your training, or in the safety brief for the exercise, you MUST have been told about STAYING TOGETHER.

    You broke the cardinal rule that keeps you and your partner alive.

    Apart from that you pull your mask and hood off in a panic in a real job, you are dead meat.

    Go see the Training Officer, talk it through and do some remedial training before someone gets nailed.

    Leave a comment:

  • res1cueffd
    The first thing to do if you start feeling like youre going to panic is to tell your buddy that youve got a problem. And you both back out & call for a stop of the drill. But backing out without telling anyone can lead to you becoming lost/disoriented and your buddy will not know where you are and call a mayday. But as for the feeling odd when youre at an incline, i have never experienced this myself so i dont know how you could prevent it from happening.
    Again as above im not trying to be harsh, just stating my opinion and ranting a bit.

    Leave a comment:

  • CaptOldTimer
    Why weren’t you on air? In a Smokey area in a trailer and even on a training event, you should have been breathing air from the air cylinder, through the face piece.

    It takes time to get use to being closed up not knowing what is going to happen next or if you will ever get to the exit with out throwing up, getting a rash or soiling your pants.

    You were in a control environment. What do you think that you would have done, had you been in a hostile situation with fire over your head and in front and behind you trying to push on and find any one that may be trapped? Learn from what you do in training and put it to use on the fire ground. If you get claustrophobic now what are you going to do in a real fire situation?

    Stay clam, breathe normal and work you way through the trailer simulator.

    Leave a comment:

  • FiftyOnePride
    Seems like you had quite the experience.

    I can see where you are coming from, that blood rush always does weird things to me.

    Luckily, you were in a training evolution. That is what training is for, you getting used to situations and learning what you can and cannot do.

    You can learn from this now: you must communicate with your team. For whatever reason not stated IIRC, you were held up. Maybe communicating your distress with your team regarding the situation might have remedied the hold up and you would have been allowed to move forward through the obstacle. Secondly, you essentially left your team. I bet you were far enough back where you were not only out of physical contact, but potentially out of vocal contact.

    Again, thankfully you were in a training exercise, and can take this experience into real scenarios with you.

    Bottom line, it's all about communication.

    I hope you don't think I am having an aggressive tone with you. I am just trying to provide you with some constructive criticism.

    Leave a comment:

  • doughesson
    Not piling on to make you feel worse but Kiwi is right.Panicking is the worst thing you could do.
    It's hard to remain calm but before you hit the panic button,take as deep a breath as your air supply will allow and let your buddy know what the problem is and if he can help you.
    Three years ago,taking the Kentucky basic firefighting course,I went through a smoke trailer with a 15 y/o explorer.Not having checked his air supply,he ran out and instead of letting me know,he started flailing around,hitting me and crawling over me screaming about his air.THAT was my mistake as well.I knew what my air supply's condition was but not my buddy's.
    If he'd been more able to hold off and tell me what was wrong,I could have helped him.All my old department's air packs have buddy breathing lines on them and fortunately,he and I had the same brand which meant I could have hooked up to him and announced that we were coming out early.
    Yes,we were in no real trouble,but if we had been assigned to search the structure,we would have been.
    Firefighters are buddied up for the same reason Navy SEALs are:to better your chances of coming through a dangerous job intact and safe.
    If your department or state has this course(and it should)as soon as possible,take a firefighter survival and escape class.You'll learn how to follow hoses to either the tip,or to the engine(even better when you're lost),how to stay oriented in a smoke environment(don't lose touch with the wall and shove furniture out of the way instead of going around),skip breathing and how to bail out of a building or get someone bigger than you out a small window.
    All this knowledge might seem overwhelming but it's life insurance to ensure that after the call,you're going back to the station and rehab as opposed to a hospital or worse.
    I hope that next time,you do better because you sound like you want this line of work.We all have fears that we face every now and then.Mine is heights and I keep getting assigned ladder and roof work.I don't like it but I do it.I never get too far out that I get into trouble though.
    I hope this helps some and good luck with it.

    Leave a comment:

  • FlyingKiwi
    Apart from the fact of if you could explain it in real English it would be easier to help you.

    A couple of things.

    You were held up in a stress physical position with your head downhill.

    Not Good.

    The confined space made no difference to that apart fom your percieved lack of ability to remedy the problem.

    You DID NOT tell the people in front of you you were in trouble.

    Not Good.

    By that I mean there is a bloody big difference between honking a Mayday and just telling people to "Make hole, coming in"

    Try that backing out [email protected] in a job, and you will rapidly back into nowhere land, and have us silly buggers looking for you to bury the sorry remains.

    Go in together and go out together MEANS EXACTLY THAT.

    When you are in it is only the top 1/2 inch of your brain that will keep yourself under control and aware of what is happening to yourself.

    We are NOT mindreaders, just Firefighters.


    Leave a comment:

  • FIRE508
    Well it could be several things....
    1. You were head first on an incline. After several min the blood rushes to u head... That can have unusual effects. Its could be ur body saying this aint right i need to get out of this. Plus u were in a NEW experience...
    2. You were not used to the experience... IT was new to you and if was uncomfertable. You were not used to being in close quarters...
    3. You were not used to being in the dark w/ full ppg.

    4.. It is most likey a combo. of all 3...
    What you probally need to do is have a officer(or whomever is incharge of the JR. Dept) walk you through it again. Matter of fact do it again just to get the hang of it. Do it without the blacked out mask first, than do it again WITH the blacked out mask. That will get u used to it....

    Leave a comment:

  • TimmVD
    started a topic claustrophobia?


    Hi, last night I had a new experience. While in the blackness smokey haze of the search and rescue trailor, I was in full gear, with mask and pack, but not on air. I had never been in the trailor before, but I HAVE been in search and rescue situations with the mask blacked out, with out being on air. That has never bothered me.

    For this exercise, I was the last man in a team of three, and our team was held up after a incline/decline obsticle. I was on the decline side of the obsticle, with about a body and a half wide, by about a body wide, versus the "normal" body and a half X body and a half. My head was at the bottom of the hill, with my feet raised above them. After about 3 minutes stuck like this, I started to panic. My arms could no longer "hold myself up," and my head started to "fill with blood." If that makes any sense. I started to hyperventilate a bit, and I felt like the walls were collapsing on me. I've been stuck in a situation like this before, when I was blacked out but not on air with out smoke, but i was still working my way through the tunnel, so the fact I was trapped in a small box hadnt bothered me. I ended up having to back up so I could get my helmet, hood, and mask off, and then I was fine.

    Any idea what that was, what caused it, and how I can prevent it?

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