Simulated scenarios help first responders in real-life emergency calls

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SAMOA, Ca (KIEM)-Six Rivers National Forest and other emergency agencies showed off their driving skills during “behind-the-wheel” scenarios at the Samoa Drag Strip.

What seemed to be a real-life, was just a simulated emergency scenario.

Six Rivers National Forest held their driving skills training to ensure U.S. Service personnel driving emergency vehicles meet national standards.

 “We don’t want our employees getting out there, responding to an incident have never done that before,” said Public information officer Tom Stokesberry.

From trucks and crew buggies to utility vehicles, even various fire engines, all emergency personnel are required to qualify for each vehicle they drive on the job.

 “Our first main concern is our firefighters, our first responders and the public,” Stokesberry said. “We want to be able to respond to an incident, to help the public but we don’t want to create another incident.”

Testing these skills is an annual requirement for firefighters.

Wildland firefighter Jacob Shuler has never run the safety obstacle course. It’s his first time.

 “It kinda makes you aware of what is going to be out there.” Shuler said. “It has construction zones, pedestrian, vehicles on the highway, all the things we need to be aware of when we are actually responding to an emergency.”

There are many distractions when heading to a call. Speed is important, so is safety.

 “You’re responding to an emergency,” Shuler said. “You got to get there in a timely manner but you gotta be concerned with their public safety and your own.”

With obstacles throughout the course, emergency personnel will get a sense of what they may encounter while on a real call.

The annual emergency vehicle operator training has been going on for about fifteen years. This year is a little different.

“This year we are able to get some of the local volunteer firefighters and the California State Parks. We have a very quality program.

Which will be beneficial this upcoming fire season.

“When we’re out here training together it’s two folds, we get to know them and we get to see the way they’ll react in these types of situations.”

Stokesberry says for those who see or hear an emergency vehicle approaching.

“We need to get to where we need to go. So if you can safely get out of the way that is the best thing to do.”

With dry conditions, fire officials expect another busy Wildland fire season.