'Two in and two out': Rapides Parish firefighters are serious about training

Travis Roy skipped the weights at the gym on Wednesday. Instead, he carried an oxygen tank through a trailer.

The Rapides Parish 911 Communications District supervisor was one of several employees from the district to experience a firefighter training exercise at Rapides Parish Fire District No. 2's station at England Airpark.

The employees crawled through a dark trailer on their hands and knees, wearing firefighter equipment.

"I have a lot of respect for firefighters," Roy said. "That firefighter equipment was heavy. It's not that hot outside, and I was pouring sweat wearing all that equipment."

Stephen Garcia, Rapides Parish Fire District No. 2 fire prevention officer, said the exercise was to give the employees a better understanding of the job of a firefighter.

"We had this exercise on Tuesday also, and about 10 total employees participated," Garcia said.

"The trailer they crawled through was a 30-foot trailer, with a top level. Firefighters will also train at the Communications District to see what it's like to work at there."

Roger McNeal, Fire District No. 2 training officer, explained to Roy and Katie Poisso that they would be led through the trailer by Fire District No. 2 Capt. Justin Smith.

"We have a motto, two in and two out -- that applies to us going in a structure that's on fire," McNeal said. "The reason why the trailer is dark is because when a firefighter goes in a structure, it's dark, and they have to crawl low to the ground to avoid smoke."

Roy and Poisso put on firefighter equipment, while McNeal told them that they could yell for help if there were problems.

"Communication is a very big thing, and they also need to be able to listen to each other," McNeal said. "The person in front needs to tell the person behind them what is going on at all times, so the person behind won't hit something unexpectedly."

Poisso, a Communications District dispatcher, completed the course and said the course was difficult.

"I don't know how firefighters do it," she said. "People don't realize how tough a firefighter's job is."

Roy had sweat dripping down his face when he exited the trailer.

"It felt like I just lost five pounds," he said. "It took a lot of upper-body strength to crawl through that course. I understand why dispatchers have trouble understanding firefighters, because it can be hard to understand someone who's speaking through an air mask firefighters wear."

Story courtesy of The Town Talk
Written by: Warren Hayes

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