Lessons Learned From Hurricane Michael

The Training you never do but need and the training that kicks in when you least expect it. Within the first year of graduating from standards, the biggest event of my life occurred; Hurricane Micheal. I was still pretty fresh at a newly started department, maybe running a single call a shift, with most of my fellow firefighters also fresh out of standards. Oct. 10 came around and destroyed the tiny town we served, and all I remember that night is the training I learned in standard and the training we did on shift just kicked in without me having to think. Throwing ladders to second floor balconies because their downstairs access was washed away, medical training I probably couldn't guide you through was just happening without a second thought, setting up an LZ that I've never formally done just happened. I'll never be able to forget the faces of absolute horror in my citizens eyes that night and the following days but above all of that I'll never forget the brotherhood I found with the Task Forces that responded. Without even fully knowing my name, I remember a Captain from a department I never even heard of, telling me that I just gained 25 more Brothers when they showed up. Over the next two weeks they taught us tactics we could only practice because of the current situation and some that I've never heard of but have used since, but the greatest training they told me to do was to take a few moments for myself every so often to gather my thoughts and come to terms with my current situation. I hope I've gone through a once in a lifetime situation with that Hurricane but I make sure to always take the time and recharge and to check on my Brothers who stand beside me and make sure they're doing the same.

Written By: Austin Schlarb

The following photo is of post Hurricane Michael living conditions.