This weekend was pretty interesting to me. I started out 4 wheeling and camping, changed to a tanker rollover that I worked on scene of for 8 1/2 hours then on Sunday taught a water rescue class. On all three days I discovered that learning by teaching is a pretty dang cool. I guess there are times in life that you feel if you are the teacher there is nothing to learn besides the fact that you see success in the ones you teach. That could not be further from the truth. Friday while 4 wheeling and camping the subject of teaching water rescue came up. I was talking about how we teach and some of the skills that are a must in order to be certified in swift water rescue. I have been doing this for a long time so there were a few things that I took for granted when it comes to those who do not have a lot of experience. For example, the power of water flow coming over a low head dam. That stuff will kill you in a heartbeat but many people don’t see it as a threat because the water is normally calm on the upper side and the dangers cannot be seen on the lower side. I know this. It kills recreational boaters and people in kayaks. It also kills rescuers every year that get in to a situation that they cannot get out of usually by accident.
Saturday while dealing with the 7500 gallons of diesel fuel contained inside of this tanker truck with possibility of coming out I learned a few things as well. In a high risk environment many people would crumble under stress. We have trained for these types of accidents but until they come upon us, we do not know how we are going to react. There are some members of our organization that are new and have never been this type of incident. They are well trained but have not had the “Real Deal” yet. These guys did exactly what they were supposed to do exactly how they were asked to do it. Then there are the experienced ones that have years of experience. 90% of the time things go well with us guys as well. I am not going to go in to full detail but there were a few instances that completely took me off guard. Things that should never happen but did on at least one occasion. This is day one stuff that should be like riding a bike. I learned that these situations can be smoother with the younger members that are just getting their feet wet. It could be because they do not want to make a mistake and do their best to show that they are more than capable to handle an important task at a large scale incident. On the other hand I learned that a seasoned pro can get a little too caught up to the point that he falls off his bike and should have had the training wheels during this incident.
Sunday during the water rescue class we were teaching students the skills and tactics of performing self rescue and rescue of victims in swift water conditions. There I learned that the teacher can also become the student. I do not know everything and I admit that but I am damn good at what I do. There is always a new question that you haven’t heard before that makes you say “hmmmmm.” They give you their thoughts and their reasons as to why they think that way. It goes into my brain and the light bulb goes off. That is a damn good thought. The other way works great but this could work as good without the same amount of exertion. I love it when that happens. When you get to the point that you only think one way works you become tunnel visioned and that is when people get hurt.
I learned these things in 3 completely different environments. It has given me the foresight to look around a little harder and be smart enough to try to learn something in every situation. Take a look around, educational opportunities are everywhere.