Rapid Critical Thinking Pt. 2

(The Seasoned Guy)

In the previous article in this series, we discussed the role of “the new guy” and how they should apply Rapid Critical Thinking as they continue to learn the job. For the newer guys it’s about learning as much as possible, and using those skills to make quick decisions based on their role on the fireground. This article will discuss how to utilize the skill of Rapid Critical Thinking for the seasoned firefighter. These tactics aren’t just for firefighters, but also for anyone that works in emergency services.

The Seasoned Guy:

The seasoned guy is the firefighter that’s been around for a few years, but hasn’t made their ascent into the chain of command just yet. These are the people who are put into action on the front line that have the necessary skills and knowledge to get the job done. They are the go-to guys for the officers because they can be trusted with completing an important task. All that being said, these firefighters should have the ability to think like an officer and be able to make decisions in their absence. Although their roles may be slightly different whether they are career or volunteer, these same tactics can be applied.

Common Role:

Besides their typical role of being a firefighter, another common role of theirs is being a mentor to the new guys. Officers are ultimately responsible for the training and safety of the newer members, but they are often held up with important tasks of their own. The seasoned guy is the perfect person to take a new guy under their wing. The seasoned firefighter can help teach the probie the rules of the firehouse, truck/tool maintenance, and also enhance their skills. The real challenge is when it comes to an incident with a heavy workload.

Rapid Critical Thinking for the Seasoned Guy:

Mentioned above, the seasoned guy should have the ability to think like an officer. This doesn’t mean that you should make your own decisions, but operating at a fire, the officer is busy dealing with assignments coming from command. As an experienced firefighter on the rig, you already know what your job is and how to get it done, but you may have a new guy in your crew that needs some guidance. This is where you step up. When you’re pushing down a hallway with a hoseline, or forcing doors as a search team, it’s important to keep an eye on a new member and also keep an eye out for any potential danger.

Below are some action items to think about when you’re operating at a scene:

  1. Am I in immediate danger? If “yes” get yourself and your crew out of the situation and report it to your officer or command. If “no” revert to the next action item.
  2. What is the current situation? Look for danger first. Anything that looks like it can pose a problem for your crew. Understand your surroundings, fire conditions, and immediate exits.
  1. What needs to be done? Once you have cleared both action items above, your next step is getting started on your task. The first thing to think about is eliminating a problem that could cause a dangerous situation ie; putting water on the fire, ventilation, etc.
  1. Did I communicate? Make sure you are communicating with an officer or incident command on your progress. Additionally, make sure you’re listening to other communications from other crews and their progress, or keeping an ear out for any alerts from command.
  1. What’s next? Once you have completed the above action items, the situation you went into will be a lot better. However, whatever your next task is, you should revert back to step 1 and continue down the action items until the job is complete.

By now you should realize that the above action items are the thoughts of an officer. By using this list, you will have the ability to think like one and make the job easier for those around you. If you’re a career firefighter, these items will help you when you eventually become an officer. In the volunteer service, there’s a good chance that you may be the acting officer at a scene every once in a while. By utilizing these ideas, you will have better control of a situation and you will prove yourself as a potential candidate when the officer position opens up. In the next article of this series, we’ll discuss Rapid Critical Thinking for the line officer.

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