We see it on every drill—a dummy carried out in a headlock or by a foot, then tossed onto the ground like a sack of potatoes. When someone says, “No, do it properly,” the dummy is carried out in a bear hug yet again dumped on the ground. For some reason, drags and carries tend to be a neglected part of training. It is like throwing ladders—so simple, so what’s the point? Just like throwing ladders, there are dozens of different drag methods and implements to combat a variety of scenarios. While you might be able to man-handle that 75 lb. dummy with no problem using poor form and bad technique, you sure as heck won’t when you’ve got a live victim pushing 200 plus lbs. with the muscle tone of a bowl of jelly.
At the core, what you are witnessing is just a symptom of the real problem: training complacency. Daily training is hard work, and perfecting the fundamentals takes time. It’s easy to come up with excuses for why exercise doesn’t get done, but the reality is we haven’t made it a priority. And no, having the rookie stand on the end of a hoseline and spray water at the clouds doesn’t count. You’ve got to get moving. If you’re the Station Officer, it’s your responsibility to ensure your crew is ready for the show, so it’s time to get a plan together and start training!
I like drags and carries myself as a starting point for daily training. No specialized equipment is needed, just you, your crew, and an open bay. Start your preparation by researching what methods are out there. You might be surprised at just how little you know. Think back to your past experiences and challenging calls to see where you struggled. The more you can show how the skills relate to real-world scenarios, the more buy-in you’ll get, so reinforce it with examples of past calls and where each method would have helped. Put those together into some necessary applications for crew drills, and aim for at least one hour of work. That may sound like a lot, but you’ll be surprised how fast it’ll go, especially once your crew starts getting into it. And don’t worry, they will. You may feel crazy for the first few minutes as you go over the skills, but you have one significant advantage—our job is inherently fun, and we love doing it! Lastly, and most importantly, listen. Inevitably, the crew will begin to discuss other issues they are having or other skills they would like to train. Take those topics and use them as inspiration for future training. Stick with it every shift, and before you know it, you’ll be a month in and grooving along!