Wednesday, October 3, 2007

"If you think you can or if you think you can't, your right!"

The tittle of this post says it all. This not only relates to running, but life in general. Last night I attended a school inspection class as part of my regular fire department training. The instructor was a Regional Fire Academy Instructor and also the Fire Chief from Cane Creek. He did his presentation and then at the end he talked about why training is so important. To be a qualified firefighter in the State of Arkansas one has to complete 3 basic courses, Introduction to Firefighting, Protective Equipment and Wildland Fire Suppression. Firefighters also have to have 24 hours per year of ongoing certifiable training otherwise their department will loose tax dollars. This is just the bare minimum to be covered under workers comp in most places.

The story went on about how he himself had been in a very bad car accident several years back and could no longer actually do firefighting as he couldn't crawl around on the floor due to a replacement knee. That was why they made him Chief, so he could handle all the admin work. He also started being an instructor to help others.

At one of his Intro/Protective Equipment classes that was being held for a small volunteer department, he said the chief came to him and asked for his help. He told him that he needed to get his best driver/pump operator certified but there was a problem. The guy only had one arm! The instructor knew the requirements of passing the basic courses. Two of the main things were that to pass the course, a firefighter would have to be able to put on turnout gear (pants,jacket,hood, helmet,boots) in one minute or less. The other requirement was putting on an air pack and be breathing air, fully turned out in less than one minute. These two things can be a challenge for even someone in perfect physical shape but a guy with one arm? How in the world would he be able to do it?

The instructor contacted the Fire Academy and asked them about it and they said that as long as he could do it within the time limitations, they could certify him. So the instructor worked with him, and after his second try, he was able to get his turnouts on within 58 seconds. After his 4th try, he was able to pass the air pack test with about a 54 second time. Unbelievable with one arm!

The guy passed his tests and was now able to be certified for workers comp purposes. It wasn't that he would ever go into a burning building as he was only going to be a driver/pump operator, but he still had to get certified to be covered under insurance. The instructor said he himself would no longer say he couldn't do anything again because of his handicaps

I guess the moral of this story is that if you want to do something bad enough you can. It may take some extra work, and it may be the hardest thing you have ever done, but anything is possible if its something you believe in. So for all those doing Marathons, just remember, "you can do it!"

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