With the types of calls firefighters and EMTs respond to, the word “fun” isn’t usually the first word that comes to mind. McFarland Fire and Rescue’s newest fire captain hopes to add enjoyment wherever possible.
Jim Reiter joined McFarland Fire and Rescue as a fire captain Sept. 23 after being a police officer for the Monona Police Department.
“It’s different work than law enforcement, and yet, we’re looking at the same outcome,” he said.
Reiter plans and conducts training for staff and volunteers. He also helps create schedules, ensures daily tasks are completed and responds to calls. Right now, he is working with the recruitment drive to bring more volunteer firefighters and EMTs to McFarland Fire and Rescue.
When it comes to training, Reiter’s motto is to make it fun.
“If you have fun while you’re training, you’re going to learn something,” he said. “And if people are learning something while we’re training, that means we’re going to do something good.”
He explained that it is easier to learn with hands-on training, rather than sitting behind a desk watching a slideshow presentation.
On Monday, Nov. 11, he conducted medical training for advanced EMTs, EMTs and EMRs with a SimMan, a patient simulator used to practice inserting an IV, placing advanced airways and conducting CPR.
Department members then played Jenga to practice using extrication tools. They also conducted radio operations with Legos. One person would communicate instructions over the radio to another member who was setting up the Legos.
“Not everything we do is fun, but our members realize that we’re here to help the community,” Reiter said. “We want to help the community and our fellow neighbors, and we have to train to do that.”
Other trainings include practicing knots to tie up equipment for it to be hoisted or carried. Later this month, members will train on vehicle extrication at University Towing.
He explained that essentially, firefighting remains in the same. Firefighters respond and spray water to put out the fire. However, technology is created for different and better ways to control the fire. Other tactics, like keeping doors shut to prevent fire from spreading, become a common practice.
“We know we have to go in and put the fire out, but just controlling it better on our terms versus its own terms,” he said.
Throughout technology changes, the goal of firefighting in itself remains the same when community members call for help.
“That’s always a satisfying situation that somebody in our community has called for help and we’re there to make it better or figure out the problem,” Reiter said.