By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Although the Atmore Fire Department training session held last Saturday, February 27, included an entire shift of AFD personnel, it was designed primarily for the benefit of just one firefighter.
Cameron Cloud, who graduated from Alabama Fire College in December, was the recipient of specialized training from four of his more veteran peers.
“In fire school, you get trained pretty much on everything, but some classes are so big, it sometimes limits the amount of hands-on training you get to do,” explained Capt. Zack Stewart as he, Lt. Wayne Kelley and Firefighters A.J. Beachy and Jesse Boone provided Cloud with instruction in how to get to a victim trapped inside a mangled automobile. “Our new guy was in a decent-sized class and hasn’t had a lot of hands-on training on extrication.”
The city firemen assisted the rookie as he used special tools to smash the windows, cut the windshield out and cut off the doors of a vehicle donated by Atmore Recycling.
“In the past, David’s Paint & Body has donated a car to us, and (City Streets & Sanitation Director) Calvin (Grace) at the city shop donated a car for us to cut on,” Stewart said. “These people (Atmore Recycling) were good enough to get us a car that still had windows on it.”
Kristi Crosby, who manages the day-to-day operations of the recycling business said she and her husband Matt were just glad they were able to play a part.
“They asked us if we had anything available that they could use, and we told them, ‘no problem’,” she said. “We were glad to do anything we could to help.”
Stewart said Chief Ron Peebles wants to make sure all of his men are confident in their own abilities and in the abilities of their fellow firemen.
“We were talking the other day about how we needed to get (Cloud) on a car and get him trained before we have a situation,” the fire captain said. “This past week, the chief gave us the green light to get this training set up. When we have a rookie right out of fire school, Chief wants to make sure the new person is confident in what he’s doing.”
The training included instruction on the safest way to take care of “recovery of patients, popping windows, cutting windshields, rolling the roof, using airbags, the whole nine yards” that rescue personnel could encounter at a wreck scene, Stewart said. It also included the safest way to position one’s self when using various tools or performing various tasks.
While Cloud was the main beneficiary of the continuing firefighter education session, all five city firemen benefited from it.
“It’s training for us, too,” Stewart said. “Under ISO and department standards, we’re supposed to train a couple of hours each day. It could be table-top training or walk-throughs, but we need to do this from time to time to refresh ourselves. Like they say at fire school, ‘use it or lose it’.”