Vince Lombardi, legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers is quoted as saying, “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” The Merrill Fire Department practices and trains to be ready for both fire and advanced life support (ALS) emergency medical service (EMS). During the last year the Merrill Fire Department members acquired over 4,400 hours of continuing education training in all hazards that they provide emergency response coverage for.
The State of Wisconsin requires all paramedics to have a minimum of 24 hours a year in EMS continuing education. While there is no minimum number of hours required for the fire service training, the MFD continually trains on fire service subjects. The Merrill Fire Department uses many different styles of training, some of the training is self-directed reading assignments, computer based programs and instructor lead classroom sessions. Hands on training or practical training is used year round to have the firefighters become experienced in new skills or tools, hands on training can also be used to refresh and strengthen a firefighter’s skill set of job knowledge. Training takes place year round and is constant.
Since moving into the new fire station the fire department has been able to increase some of the hands on training that was reserved for fair weather. In preparation for the wildland firefighting season this last March and April, department members were able to set up a portable water tank and draft water with the brush truck. With the design of the new apparatus room the diesel exhaust is automatically removed allowing the apparatus to have the motors running.
The last couple of weeks the Merrill Fire Department has conducted two realistic training evolutions in the city. The first one was conducted the week of June 16 when Merrill Fire Department personnel were on the Wisconsin River conducting water rescue training utilizing our RDC (Rapid Deployment Craft). This training is conducted annually to simulate open water rescues on the waters that run through and around the City of Merrill. The waters that are included in our emergency response areas are the WI River that runs through the City and then all the way up to the Grandmother Dam in the Town of Rock Falls along with the Prairie River. A number of lakes are also located within our area including Lake Alexander, Lake Pesobic, Tug Lake, and a number of small lakes and streams as well.
The second training evolution was conducted the week of June 23 as personnel trained at the NTC Public Safety Center of Excellence on Confined Space Rescue. This training is the department’s annual refresher training that was conducted by NTC Instructors. With the help of Jeff Kraft the Director of the Lincoln County Emergency Government, a grant of $4,635 from the State of Wisconsin Division of Emergency Management was secured to pay for the instructors from NTC. The Merrill Fire Department currently provides confined space rescue to the City of Merrill Street and Water Department staff when they enter any confined space in the city such as manholes, sewers, or spaces they enter that the atmosphere needs to be monitored for entry to work or inspect.