By Fire Chief Arjuna George, Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue (British Columbia, Canada)
The fire service and all of humanity have got a taste to what our new world may be like and how we will manage this life-changing pandemic (COVID-19). As the world shifts and adjusts to this new normal, the fire service is faced with numerous unforeseen challenges. Virtually overnight, one of the most difficult and complex problems the fire service faced was how to maintain their organization’s training competencies during the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Firefighters are innovators and great problem solvers. We do not roll over when faced with adversity; we solve diverse issues with our can-do attitudes. This pandemic has brought upon the world much anxiety and pain, but it has also created golden opportunities for growth and has forced us to be creative and resourceful in all we do. Response protocols to fire and medical alarms changed overnight but we remained operational and ready to serve our communities 24/7. However, for many departments, in-person training abruptly ended for months on end.
Online training and video conferencing turned into the only option for most North American Fire Services and it worked. It worked so well that many organizations are still using these technological tools today after the restrictions have been eased.