Ascension firefighters attend Emergency Driver Training

James E. LeBlanc Special to The Citizen

When we have safety emergencies, or disaster strikes, we are taught to dial 911 for help. The time of night, weather conditions or the situation that requires the emergency response does not matter. We call that number fully expecting to be immediately met by professionals who are able to assist us, no matter the problem or the driving conditions. But consider what would happen if the emergency vehicle slid off the road or hit another car while en route to us. Emergency drivers are not born knowing how to handle a vehicle running at top speeds on wet roads. They must have solid training to learn the skills they need.

"This week 66 firefighters from St. Amant, 5th. Ward, Sorrento, 7th. Dist., Galvez-Lake, Geismar and East Iberville attended a defensive driving course on the proper way to respond to and return from an emergency in your personal vehicle," stated Ascension Fire Dist. No.1 Chairman James E. LeBlanc.

The course was instructed by Mike Arnold of VFIS (Volunteer Firefighters Insurance Services.)

With every 911 call received, someone must drive an emergency vehicle. It is the mode which gets EMTs (emergency medical technicians), fire service and police to your location to help you, yet driving errors are the number one reason for accidents involving EMTs and emergency response services. Strangely, it is the skill with the least amount of training required for EMT and other emergency services. Any person who is employed as an emergency medical technician, police officer or fireman could also be a driver of an emergency response vehicle. It is of utmost importance that anyone working in these career's demonstrate exemplary driving habits.

Emergency responders must be taught how to handle their vehicle in the worst of weather and conditions, such as on icy bridges. They are taught how to safely come out of a spin in heavy rain when the vehicle hydroplanes or skids on wet services. They are taught what to do when encountering deer or other large animals suddenly appearing in the road in rural areas. These are all situations that a driver could be confronted with. To experience any of these would require quick thinking (an emergency response) without panic, which is also a skill that a driver must be trained in.

"We are indeed very proud of the countless hours our Volunteers continue to put into this community on training and response," stated LeBlanc.