Beauty and the Beast

Gulf Coast Emergency Response Academy is a beautiful place to train for the worst

It has been stated by many professional athletes that they “hate” practice but “love” playing the game. If you look back on your own past experiences you may find that you have felt the same way about training. So, why do we view training as a chore? Should we, as responders, view it as a necessary evil task we must perform based on a standard or regulation? Why can’t we view it as a golden opportunity to refresh our knowledge, gain new skills or add another tool into our response tool box?
At the Gulf Coast Emergency Response Training Academy (GCERA) the goal is to keep the participants engaged in the training plan, not simply presenting a fire, giving an objective, finishing the given task and walking away. The idea is to make the student think. Continually reassessing the plan and evolving the plan based on new circumstances.

“It has been my goal to change the mindset of training,” stated Academy Director Mike McCreary. Now Gulf Coast Emergency Response Training Academy will never be Disneyland. But McCreary and his instructors strive to make the training experience at the industrial fire training field something interesting rather than something dreaded. “We want them to say ‘Man that was kind of cool.’”

To enhance our training experience GCERA is developing new and innovative techniques such as “instant replay.”  High definition video cameras record the training session from all different angles to be available for instant post-exercise playback. The entire fire scenario is recorded from quarter angles. After the fire is mitigated, the team moves to the adjacent fire building and the large video screen replays the event.  Here the teams can see what the “big picture” was.  They see the event from 360 degrees. By doing so, they can learn from mistakes or poor decisions that may have been made.

“If I’m on a portable monitor on the northeast side of the structure, I am only seeing that fire from my aspect,” McCreary said. “With the video, we are able to show them that they were shooting water completely over the structure.”

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Recent Incidents
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Jun 16
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Jun 14
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Jun 14
Lake Country, BC: Fire broke out at a waste management company. More Information

Jun 13
Elizabeth, NC: Homes downwind of a burning chemical plant were evacuated. More Information

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