By Technical Sergeant Robert P. Jarvis, United States Air Force Fire and Emergency Services
Here is some exciting news from the DoD Fire Emergency Services (FES) regarding Everyone Goes Home® and the 16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives! The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation’s (NFFF) Courage to Be Safe® (CTBS) training was conducted for the first time in a deployed location. This course was held on October 22 – 23, 2014 at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base (MKAB) in Romania. It was also the first Courage to Be Safe® course held in the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Major Command.
The student body consisted of 20 U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army Firefighters from 7 installations: Ft. Bragg, NC; Ft. Cambell, TN/KY; Ft. Stewart, GA; Grant City USAR Reserve, IL; RAF Mildenhall, U.K.; Ramstein AB, Germany; and Aviano AB Italy.
Having been a part of the Courage to Be Safe® training at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan, I had been waiting for an appropriate time to initiate this course elsewhere in the DoD. I gained so much from my experiences at Kadena. We suffered a great loss after the LODD of A1C Derek Kozorosky. I witnessed a department go through major organizational and cultural changes as a result. I believe one of the final catalysts to our recovery as a department, and as firefighters, was the Courage to Be Safe® program that the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation taught in January 2012 in Okinawa.
Our mission here at MKAB is as complex as it is flexible, synergizing USAR, USAF, and Romanian Fire Emergency Services to provide flawless emergency response coverage for the installation. The opportunity to work together in such an integrated role opened some doors for joint training, camaraderie, and support.
Having FES brothers and sisters from 5 separate installations created an interesting dynamic that made this course uniquely successful. While 100% of the students were familiar with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in one capacity or another, they had yet to attend the Courage to Be Safe® course either in person or through distance learning mediums. Naturally, they were eager to learn more about the course and the 16 Initiatives. Their tenacity, positivity, and participation in the course truly made an impact and drove home the ideation of the Initiatives and the mission of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
The course was delivered over two days, holding classroom facilitation of the Courage to Be Safe® program in the mornings as schedules allowed. Upon conclusion of the course we held a BBQ, open to all, to encourage fellowship amongst the Emergency Responders. I am very pleased to report that the event was a great success. I received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the students on the course content and message. Four students expressed interest in becoming train-the-trainer certified, and all 20 students were very interested in the online resources available to them. I am confident that they will return to their installations not only wiser, but better prepared and equipped to create cultural change and to get serious about safety.
At the end of the day we returned to our separate fire houses with the safety of our fellow firefighters in the forefront of our minds, beginning with backing the apparatus into the station. We considered all the little things we do every day that can end us in an instant, most of which we complete on auto-pilot. The definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. As stated in the program “we do not invent new ways to kill firefighters” but we are doing our best to manifest new ways to save them, if even from themselves. I’m very proud to be a part of that effort.