With somewhere around 45 pounds of protective gear on my back during an 85 degree summer day, I felt like I was suffocating as I prepared to enter the smoking building filled with flames in front of me.
The large, common-issue fireman’s oxygen mask only released oxygen when I inhaled, creating a vacuum when I exhaled that made it feel as if I could never get enough air. The feeling of fighting for air intensified as I struggled to fight the fire inside, until I was hyperventilating and gasped that I couldn’t stop the fire, I couldn’t breathe.
On that day, I was able to exit the building, catch my breath and get a sip of water. But, for a real firefighter, there is no option to back out.
#training #leadership #fire #firefighting #publicsafety