The Palatine Fire Department’s Training Division is responsible for the overall training of the Department. In cooperation with the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) coordinator, heads of the specialty teams, and all the shift officers, training is provided for the Department members from the entry level academy subjects to the upper command and administration level. Our training is accomplished with in-house instructors and by utilizing various outside training agencies.
All members start their career by going through a regional fire academy, where they attain Basic Firefighter. When they return from the academy they get a short course on Palatine specific practices. We next focus on getting them certified as a paramedic; for this they will attend the paramedic school at Northwest Community Hospital. Some members come to us already state certified through other hospital systems and go through a short class to update them on our system policies and protocols.
With the first two big hurdles behind the new firefighter the member begins to get additional training under the watchful eye of their company officer. New firefighters work toward Advanced Technican Firefighter certification within the company environment. After members who have achieved their Advanced Technician Firefighter certification they can move along to different areas of involvement. There are many classes available for each of the specialty teams that the Department maintains. The member can choose from Apparatus Engineer, Technical Rescue Team, Dive Team, Hazardous Materials, Fire Investigation, or Officer development. Each area has a State Fire Marshal certification program that Palatine participates in.
Each week we schedule some type of training for all the firefighters on shift. This can range from polishing skills to rolling out a new policy or procedure. Recent training has included topics as diverse as Incident Command and communications, weapons of mass destruction awareness, structure fire scenarios including live fire and smoke, confined space rescue, vehicle extrication, roof ventilation, ice rescue, and many others. We believe strongly in scenario-based, in-context practical training. To make training sessions as realistic as possible, the Training Division maintains a number of props and supplies, including things such as theatrical smoke machines and specially-built rescue manikins. These manikins are in adult, child and infant sizes and allow us to practice rescue techniques from situations such as fires, trenches, underwater or in ice, or confined spaces. We also have a number of medical training manikins ranging from basic CPR props to advanced airway and cardiac simulation manikins. When available, and with the consent of the property owners, we make use of structures slated for demolition and junk vehicles to make our training even more realistic and relevant. To ensure that we operate consistently with our closest mutual aid partners, we routinely do combined training with the Rolling Meadows and Palatine Rural fire departments, as well as periodic training with other departments we work with on a regular basis.