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Ever listen to a presentation and think, yeah, that’s a good idea, makes sense, and it should work at our department only to find out later that it doesn’t seem to work quite as seamlessly as it appeared during the presentation. Or perhaps you’ve been to a hands-on training where the instructor demonstrates the techniques for a new and improved way of performing extrication and then when its your turn the tools don’t seem to cut as fast as they did for the instructor, for some reason they feel heavier than they looked, and it takes you twice as long to make the same cuts that were demonstrated to you only moments earlier.
The other day I took my 7 year old daughter to the roller rink. She had been talking about it for a week and her level of excitement was over the top. I had promised her that I would teach her how to skate backwards. When we arrived at the roller rink I convinced her to spend some time skating forward so we could get comfortable with our skates, the floor, flow of traffic, and build some confidence before embarking on our new skills.
After a few short laps she was by my side reminding me of my promise to teach her how to skate backwards and attempting to convince me that she was ready. So, in keeping with my promise, I took her by the hand and began to demonstrate to her how to move her feet so that she could skate backwards. I carefully discussed the differnces between maintaining your balance while skating forward as opposed to backwards. I discussed, starting, stopping, and turning.
Although at a very slow pace, we made several laps around the rink. Her confidence was building as she only fell a few times. Then it was time for me to let her go on her own, try to propel herself rather than me pulling her. Time for her to start, stop, and turn on her own. Soon, she began to realize this would be more difficult than it had looked. She stopped, looked at me, and said “Dad, you make it look so easy.” I smiled as I thought back to some 30 years ago when I was first learning how to skate and had thought the very same thing.
Sometimes we attend training with unrealistic expectations. We want to learn something new and pass the information onto the rest of our department but when we get home we can’t remember parts of it or the tools/techniques don’t seem to work the same. You can’t realistically think that you can learn a subject to the level of instruction by simply attending a 2hr, 4hr, or 8hr class.
While some topics can be learned and mastered in a very short period of time, others can take much longer. For example, the amount of time it takes to learn how to don your PPE (personal protective equipment) is much less than the amount of time it takes to learn how to safely operate extrication equipment.
The same is true for an instructor. Attending a class on extrication does not immediately qualify you to teach extrication. There are many components to teaching extrication in an effective and safe manner. It can also be a very complex topic; often being broken into entry level, intermediate, and advanced segments.
No reasonable student expects his/her instructor to know everything about a given topic. However, there is a level of expectation that as an instructor you will have an above average understanding of the topic you are teaching. As an instructor you owe it to yourself and to your students to study your topic of instruction to a level of expertise.