Script from his piece: So what's it take to be a firefighter? KTIV's Al Joens was among the citizens who got a chance to find out today.
"We want people to understand what we do..." said Tom Everett, Sioux City Fire Chief.
A word of encouragement from the chief, a quick check of our vital signs and we are off and running. Our first scenario, a man in his 70s has suffered a heart attack. We work as a team to keep him alive, taking turns with chest compressions, establishing an airway and hooking up an I-V.
Load him in the ambulance and we're off to the hospital. We've done our work. The rest is up to them.
"Your primary objective in this scenario, however is to go in and search for a victim and pull them out," said Fire Team Leader
Next up, we're going in a smoke-filled building to rescue a guy who's unconscious inside. We mask up, turn on the oxygen and I'm good to go and head in.
"Stay on your knees"
The smoke is thick. There's debris everywhere. It's pretty realistic stuff, minus the intense heat and the unknown, potentially life-threatening dangers the real firefighters face all the time. With a little teamwork, we get our man.
"Get your feet up and climb the rungs, as much as you can," said Fire Team Leader.
Firefighters have to have nerves of steel. That involves climbing to the top of a 109-foot long ladder mounted atop a fire truck. This exercise was optional. Not everyone opted in, but I'd been talking pretty big about being fearless. Course, that was while I was on the ground. Something I kinda regretted along about half-way up. But I pushed on and made it to the top, with the reassurance from Lt. Josh McClure, who was there not so much to keep me from falling off, but to help me bring me down if I "freaked out."
Al: "Josh, how high up are we right now?" Lt. Josh McClure: "Uh, we're about 80 feet above the ground here. You made the climb."
Firefighters have a lot of big, heavy tools that you won't find at Home Depot.
These are used to get into commercial buildings that are probably going to be locked if fire breaks out after hours.
"What we're doing here now is an extrication in a car. They're using two tools; one's a spreader, one's a cutter, commonly called the Jaws of Life, they're what they use to rip the side off the car.
Once the doors are out of the way, it's easier for rescuers to pull an injured person from the car.
Finally, it's time to put the Haz-mat suit on and get under that rail tanker to close a leaky valve. It's a pretty realistic and rigorous exercise for us civilians. We can only imagine what it's like for the personnel who do this when there are lives on the line.
"You know, I thought it was a great experience. It's just like going to ahospitall or any otherinstitutionn in town, you know any time you get an opportunity to get involved and get a feel for it you get a new appreciation for what they do on a daily basis," said Sen. Rick Bertrand, (D) IA District 7.
"The most fun that I had was going through the smoke-filled room. It really gave you a hands-on experience of what they really do," said Rhonda Capron, Sioux City City Council member.
"I got such respect for everything that the firefighters and those associated in this profession do," said Tim Gallagher, Sioux City Journal.
So as we head back to our jobs, we have a new appreciation for the guys who do this every day.