Training for Firefighters

While most risks of injury to firefighters occur “on the fire ground,” factors such as physical stress, being lost or trapped in a fire situation, and vehicle crashes are identified as the primary causes of death, reports the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in their RAND report, “Protecting Emergency Responders.” In fact, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) confirms that deaths in road vehicle crashes are the second most frequent cause of on-duty firefighter fatalities.

Of course, stress is another significant occupational hazard. Mental health issues such as cumulative stress, traumatic stress, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are concerns for emergency responders such as firefighters. According to the NIOSH-funded report, “The traumatic nature of major disasters can have significant effects on individual responders and on response organizations as a whole.”

Recognizing these hazards, 2 The Rescue has developed courses that can help firefighters better deal with the vehicular-related dangers they encounter on nearly every call, and manage the stress that often comes with their regular exposures to danger, trauma and adrenaline. All classes exceed the standards of courses that were previously available to the firefighters in the State of Michigan.

“Loss of Control: Suicide, PTS & High Risk Behavior Education”

This frontline experience-based wellness training is designed for first responders, their loved ones, organizational leaders and peer support team members and will address suicide, post traumatic stresses, secondary trauma and accumulative career exposures. Whether you have been in this field 3 weeks or 30 years you will be given life changing tools to be safe, successful and healthy in your career, personal life and into retirement. You will be armed to be a more knowledgeable and effective peer for your partners.

Attendees will learn why the suicide rates are so high within first responders cultures and what must change! You will understand what post traumatic stressors are and be able to recognize high risk lifestyle behaviors so to make personal changes or intervene before it is to late. Topics addressed include:

  • The Terrible Ten!
  • Trauma exposure survival keys
  • Personal and departmental accountability
  • Are you a high risk responder?
  • High risk behaviors and destructive warning signs
  • High risk years of service
  • Suicide & PTS signs, symptoms and intervention options
  • How to survive accumulative and post traumatic stress
  • Cumulative and secondary stress responses
  • Mastering the adrenaline rush
  • Support systems
  • The ins, outs and workings of a critical incident
  • The importance of communication
  • Peer support role (formal and informal)

“Peer Support Team: Bringing Your Team To The Next Level!”

Whether you are a current support team member looking to expand your knowledge, or you are looking to start a new team, this course covers the key areas needed to be successful. Peer Support Teams is designed as an open discussion format. Two the Rescue will lead the dialogue on a range of training topics, encouraging course participants to raise specific questions on what is and isn’t working in sustaining their peer support team. Topics include:

  • History of First Responder Peer Support
  • Basic training needs and support
  • Advanced training needs
  • Education for the leadership
  • How to educate the new recruits
  • Problem Recognition
  • Policy, Procedures & SOP’s
  • State Laws – privacy of peer to peer conversations
  • What is a CISM Debriefing vs. Defusing?
  • When is it time for the One-on-Ones?
  • Mindset of an organization and its personnel

  • Building awareness and trust: How to make your team visible
  • WHO is on this team and how to keep them active
  • Networking and Mutual Aid when it comes to use of another Peer Support Team
  • Where does CISM fall when dealing with First Responders family members
  • Death Notifications
  • Dealing with the Line of Duty Death or Suicide of a colleague
  • References, Resources and Support

“Zero to 60: Career Survival and Emotional Wellness”

Through “boots on the ground experiences, 2 The Rescue provides first responders a clear picture of why their profession can lead to destructive habits and unhealthy lifestyles. We will demonstrate how the inability to manage the cumulative stress from daily exposures to adrenaline and trauma can negatively affect the responder’s safety, decision-making and ability to remain ethically solid.

After attending our Career Survival and Emotional Wellness course, your first responders, their loved ones and work family will be armed with tools to manage their everyday stressors. We will help them recognize the warning signs for chronic and post-traumatic stress and suicidal behavior. All will leave with realistic, simple and successful methods to help rescue the rescuers! Topics addressed include:

  • Understanding the lifestyle change
  • Recognizing the heavy toll
  • Assessing the disturbing facts
  • Acknowledging career realities
  • Managing acute, critical incident and post-traumatic stress
  • Understanding the “Terrible 10” Stressors
  • Assessing the mindsets of the organization, it responders and their loved ones
  • Learning the good, bad and ugly of adrenaline
  • Controlling the adrenaline roller coaster
  • Differentiating core values vs. situational values
  • Staying ethically sound
  • Recognizing personal destructive behavior

  • Identifying normal vs. abnormal behaviors
  • Maintaining the proper priorities to build a healthy resilience
  • Identifying physical, emotional and behavioral warning signs
  • Recognizing the symptoms of post-traumatic stress
  • Becoming aware of suicidal tendencies
  • Providing lifestyle management tips
  • Learning the 4 Cs of Survival
  • Discovering support keys and phrases for peers and loved ones
  • Knowing crisis referral options
  • And more

“Firefighter Situational Awareness & Threat Assessment”

16 Firefighter Life Saving Initiatives: # 12 Violent Incident Response: There is a saying among first responders, there is no such thing as a routine call. But as society has changed so have the dangers facing firefighters. These dangers are ones that they have never before worried about or have been trained to recognize. Checking the scene mindset has to be more than looking for smoke, flames and environmental concerns and must include violence indicators from patients and bystanders. Going home safely now depends on the firefighters ability to read the body language of those with the intent on causing bodily harm to the rescuers. 2 The Rescue’s seminars and scenario-based trainings present proven life-saving techniques that remove firefighters from dangerous situations before the evil strikes.

Firefighters will learn the proper stance and positioning and develop their skills for interpreting verbal and non-verbal cues as well as efficient and effective de-escalation principals. Firefighters will be able to recognize the indicators of potential physical, environmental and terrorist violence as well as the proper reaction and response before it is to late.

“Emergency Response Liability & Advanced Driving Strategies”

2 The Rescue’s ADVANCED drivers training program which exceeds legal statutes of the State of Michigan and recommendations by VFIS through proven life saving driving strategies and field tested techniques will change the emergency responders mindset and modify their driving behaviors yielding in a reduction in liability costs while providing a legal, safe and more efficient response in all situations.

“Scene Safety & Traffic Control”

There is a need to reduce firefighters deaths and injuries and to minimize organizational liability when working in and around moving vehicles and other environmentally hazardous scenes. Firefighters will learn life-saving concepts and understand the legal requirements for scene control to maintain compliance with the Emergency Vehicle Safety Initiative, Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) regulations, DOT and OSHA requirements resulting in a safer work zone.


“We can’t thank you enough for an outstanding night of learning for our group and our families. I have had many department and family members comment on how valuable the information was. The best comment came from our 4 time purple heart recipient. “The training was awesome. I wish the military gave us training like that!” Fire Chief Allen D. Sutherby, Morton Township Fire/Rescue

“I found your training to be very helpful, I was always told the backpack gets heavier but you learn to carry it. I never thought a lot about how to take the bricks out and make it lighter.” Dave Rinehart Bronson Fire Department, Branch County, MI.

“It was awesome and we would go again for a third time if in our area! Loved the personal touches!” Nancy & Kenny Stutzman Branch County, MI Fire Department

“I was planning on emailing you today to share that I’ve had several of the firefighters tell me how thankful they are that you guys came down to share your message before this tragedy hit and that is is helping them cope. I sure am glad that we took a proactive approach on the subject. We are all watching out for each other and we have a CISD team coming down from Kalamazoo tomorrow evening. I’ll remind the rest of the department that you two have resources available to them as well. ” Fire Chief Wilber, Bronson Fire Department, Branch County, MI

“As both a fire wife and a full time paramedic this class was outstanding. Sometimes filling both shoes is tough, this definitely helped remind me what was important.” Unknown Paramedic, Oakland County, MI

“Very good info! We will be thankful everyday for this information.” Unknown Firefighter Spouse, Oakland County, MI

“Thank you! This class came at a perfect time in my life and was a huge help.” Unknown Firefighter, Oakland County, MI

“Thank you both for sharing your lives with us. You both are part of what I hope to be a big change with families, friends and co-workers in emergency services. Thank you for all you do.” Cheri Tuller, Chief’s Wife of Traverse City Fire Department, Traverse City, MI

“I had the pleasure of sitting in on this class this morning. Many tears were shed and ANYONE would benefit from this class!! These 2 home town heroes are bringing light to the fact that Emotional Wellness is just as important as your job skill set. In this case; our 1st responders have a HUGE % of divorce rate, alcoholism and sadly to say suicides (more so than the civilian population). Definitely PTSD in many cases. There’s good calls and bad calls. Our brains are wired to remember the bad before the good. How do you cope? Personally AND as a family?? These guys are presenting info (from the field), increasing awareness in hopes to modify behavior and change the attitude of civilian and public safety community!! Hat’s off to you Terry & Mike thank you for sharing your stories with us today.” Stacy Allman Blair Township Fire and EMS Spouse, Grawn, MI

“When I first started out in the fire service my chief had you guys come out and run a class for us, I thought it was one of those it won’t happen to me things so I brushed it off. Fast forward a few years when it *was* happening to me, I found a card in my wallet and gave the number a call. You guys dropped what you were doing and spent a good hour on the phone with me… saved my life.” Jake Oakes, Firefighter

“Thank you guys for reaching out. This is one of the best classes I have attended. It certainly is very eye opening.” Todd Hurley, Battalion Chief Clay Fire Territory 

“Thanks again for the class last night. I was forced to take this class but I’m glad I did.” Joseph Morck, FF-Medic Shelby Township Fire Department, Macomb County, MI

“You did our class at Selfridge ANGB. Loved your message, revitalizes the soul that we aren’t really crazy!” Fire Chief Christopher Ross, United States Air Force, Macomb County, MI

“This was absolutely eye opening and beyond informational. You guys did a fabulous job, and as part of the HR team for my Township, I could visibly see how the firefighters related to you. Thank you for your wonderful presentation and for really giving insight into the first response profession. You have definitely started meaningful conversations and have no doubt saved lives!!” Megan Burke, Benefits Coordinator at Chesterfield Township Municipal Offices

“Thank you so much for coming and talking to the firefighters and wives of Delta Township. As a mother of a firefighter, I found valuable information and wisdom in your seminar. Keep up the good work!!” Kenna Roberts, Delta Township, MI

“I wanted you to know how much I enjoyed the training. You and Mike are saving lives, saving relationships, and preventing substance abuse with every presentation. Every public safety employee should attend this valuable training. I admire the courage and forthright nature by which you tell your personal story to bring home the importance of emotional wellness for first responders.” Daniel J. Mills, Senior Deputy Police & Fire Chief, Portage, MI

“I attended your workshop last night and I didn’t get a chance to thank you for sharing your vulnerability with us. It provided an extra component to the training that is invaluable. I came as a support person for my husband. I am not a first responder. I have been a medical oncology nurse and a sexual assault nurse examiner for 11 years & just recently within the past year started staffing the child abuse clinic at Bronson. My exposure to trauma is different than that of EMS, Law Enforcement, Firefighter. Even so, I have noticed some of the coping mechanisms and personality traits that you discussed surface throughout my own career. Your tips and tricks for relationship strengthening for those unable to make decisions and those drained of emotion are spot on. I found it VERY helpful my personal use and for application when being a supportive wife. Thanks again. Keep up the Good Work!” Sherri Khillah, Nurse and Responder Wife, Kalamazoo, MI

“This is one of the best classes I have taken. It should be a requirement by the state!” Brian Radant, Tecumseh Fire Department, Tecumseh, MI

“Thank you guys for the great training. I noticed myself and others have changed our driving behavior while driving emergency. I wish we had done this earlier. Your class should be mandatory for all of us.” Rick Vriesenga, Captain Alto-Bowne Twp. Fire Department, Alto, MI

“This training is the best I have gone to in 20 years of fire fighting, it opens the eyes and minds of the old timers as well as the rookies. Driving safety is one of the most important things we need to do in fire service.” Fire Chief Middleton, Thornapple Township EMS, Middleville, MI

“Very well prepared and customized class to our department. Eye opening!” Firefighter Belanger, Tecumseh Fire Department, Tecumseh, MI

“The best coverage of this subject that I have had in 28 years of the fire service.” Chaplain Roersma, Alpine Fire Department, Alpine, Comstock Park, MI

“Very high energy presentation…More class participation than I have seen for any EVO class in years.” Assistant Chief Long, Tecumseh Fire Department, Tecumseh, MI

“A+, very informational and well received.”  Fire Chief Lague, North Muskegon Fire Department, North Muskegon, MI