Date last updated: Tuesday, November 29, 14:36 PST

The Rehab Training Center
with Jeffrey Lindsey

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How to train like an athlete

Fall reminds me of just how important training should be to the fire and EMS service, especially on Saturday afternoons. I enjoy sitting in front of the television set and watching college football.

In the emergency services arena, we really don't have a winner or loser as it is not a point-based profession. Yet, there are times when we feel like we have lost in such situations as personnel being injured, or worse dying.

We are not playing a game, but we are playing the odds when we fail to properly prepare and train for each event we encounter.

Whether you are a sports fan or not, it is readily identifiable that those teams who win consistently practice and focus on those areas they are the weakest.

In addition, they continue to drill on the skills they perform best in order to maintain a high level of proficiency. Ever watch a football game when the camera pans to the place kicker on the sidelines practicing the kick?

In some games it comes down not just to the kicker being able to kick the ball between the uprights, but for the entire team to play their part in order for the kicker to make that critical kick.

In order to do this, personnel are rotated throughout the game and provided rehab to be sure they are able to maintain their ability to play the game.

Rehab at the scene of incidents provides a similar function for personnel; however, if personnel assigned to rehab do not practice the skills necessary, they jeopardize the personnel on the team.

Taking vital signs, providing assessment, and identifying abnormalities are key components to successfully run a rehab division.

Further, if the only time you are taking vital signs, performing assessments, and identifying abnormalities is on the scene of an incident, you are not properly preparing yourself to provide the best service to your fellow colleagues.

Just like the place kicker who spends each week at practice kicking a ball a different angles, different distances and different conditions and doesn't stop practicing even while the game is ongoing, we too need to be practicing.

Whether it is winter or summer, rain or shine, day or night, we should be practicing our rehab skills in order to be able to identify when things may be going in an untoward direction.

Practice provides us the ability to identify those situations that may seem out of the ordinary on the scene of an incident because practice illustrative what should be considered normal. It gives us opportunity to plan how we will perform on the scene of an incident.

We should not always be practicing our skills in a controlled environment like a classroom, training room, or living quarters, but in areas similar to where we will be expected to perform. How often do you think an athlete sits in a classroom environment and practices a place kick or shoots a basketball at a recliner?

Practice is the fundamental element of being the best at what you do. Step up the game and practice all those components of the rehab program.

How we train is how we perform. Next time you are watching a college football game, or any game for that matter, think about how often they repetitively practice.

We are not any different and need to execute just the same. The three fundamental terms are practice, practice, and practice.

Dr. Lindsey is the coordinator/lecturer for the University of Florida Fire and Emergency Service degree program. He serves as the chief learning officer for Health Safety Institute. He retired from the fire service as chief of Estero (Fla.) Fire Rescue. Dr. Lindsey earned his doctorate and master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from USF. He holds a bachelor’s degree in fire and safety engineering from the University of Cincinnati. He also has earned his chief fire officer designation and is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer Program. He was the 2011 recipient of the James O Page Leadership Award from IAFC. You can contact Jeffrey at

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