Learning to breathe again.

Never before has the simple act of breathing seemed so technologically complex. I mean, sure, it's nearly a miracle that the human body can coordinate the whole diaphragm/lungs/airway setup, but I figured that was complicated enough.


Now, after obtaining an air* cylinder and SCBA harness (the complete package weighing just a hair over thirty pounds), it seems like the basic act of breathing will be initially hindered by our need to know flow rates, volume limitations, and various other specifications. Later this week, we'll be having a practical examination where we have to explain every facet of the harness/cylinder assembly, as well as precisely describe the steps of SCBA operation and testing. 


For right now, however, we're confined to the classroom. When we start donning our masks while at our desks, I have the feeling that my mind will keep jumping back to some photojournalism I saw a number of years ago.


"Child Wearing Gas Mask." 
An Israeli child in a classroom wears a gas mask, in preparation for the expected chemical attack by Iraq in the Gulf War.
(c) David H. Wells/CORBIS, ca. 1991.

*EDIT: Thanks to a commenter for pointing out my glaring mistake. It is in fact an air cylinder on our backs (just the normal stuff we're all breathing right now)—all that damn paramedic training must have gone to my head, causing me to slip and call it an oxygen cylinder. Whoops!


  • Mark B. says:

    All that paramedic training isn’t going to save your life. Maybe you should start doing some more fireman training and focus on what will save your own ass.

    • raisingladders says:

      Well that’s awfully ignorant of you. What makes you think that I wasn’t doing “fireman training” at the time? I *was* in the Academy, after all.

      Are you reading this and thinking that it was written… recently? Since this post was created, I’ve certainly focused plenty of training on what will save my own ass, thank you much.

      You sound like you have a lot of latent hostility towards paramedics, and maybe that’s something you need to work out on your own. Thanks for your heavy-handed and presumptive opinion, though!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

background image Blogger Img

Alex Capece

Washington, D.C. Firefighter and Paramedic

FE Talk: Humpday Hangout

Captain Scott Hetrick
Gear Review: Blauer’s new tactical boots
Interesting that BOA is from my home town of Steamboat Springs, and they didn't approach our Fire Department to do a field test or even let us know that they were working on a duty boot. Small towns are funny sometimes. Captain Scott Hetrick Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue
2014-11-29 21:26:03
stephen miller
St. Baldrick’ Support a Fellow Brother Fighting Pediatric Cancer!
Great job, brethren ... be bald (bold) even off the fire ground.
2014-02-22 09:33:24
John Struve
St. Baldrick’ Support a Fellow Brother Fighting Pediatric Cancer!
As I read all the above I wondered "How does it work?" Are fire personnel asking for pledges from the public to be paid to this charity when the personnel have their heads shaved? The ad above was not clear to me. I will read it again. The charity is certainly a very worthwhile cause.…
2014-02-22 06:20:28
“Social Media Policy”—how does it affect the bloggers? | Raising Ladders
A word of caution for the chronic Facebook addicts.
[…] over three years ago, I penned a post regarding how firefighters and EMS providers were landing themselves in hot water by using various […]
2014-01-07 17:55:57
Jonny Hope
Farewell, brother.
So very well said Brother. Mike was such an awesome guy. Sure am gonna miss him and his stories. Mike touch so many people on and off the job. Mike will continue to live on in so many of us. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful tribute with us about Mike. 
2013-12-04 21:49:48

Alex Capece's Discussions

Follow Alex Capece
"For anyone who ever wanted to grow up and become a firefighter... from someone who did just that."
February 2009
« Jan   Mar »

FireEMS Blogs eNews

Sign-up to receive our free monthly eNewsletter