With a lot of posts lately that are from rookies talking about their adventures in their POVs, or how they speak publicly of private events.  I was guilty of similar things when I was looking through my "rookie eyes" as I assume many of you did when you started out.  How long did this last for you, and can you point to a moment, or series of events that lead you to start looking at things more maturely? 

For me, I was in the fire service for 3 1/2 - 4 years and our chief was starting to discuss stepping down. I then evaluated my position in the department and where my future was with the organization.  I know advancing in the department is not a fast paced event, but I look at things worth doing, as being worth doing right.  It started with evaluating my maturity level and watching, reading, and talking about what is and what is not accepted to those who we are here to replace.  If we can not live up to their expectations we stand no chance in taking over one day.  I stepped away from the crowd that made fun of the rookies for their shortcoming and started looking at it a shortcoming of mine that they were not catching on.

Please share your experiences, it is important that we all grow in this service.  Perhaps your words will inspire some of those that are just starting out.  Please no badgering, I want people to feel free to speak openly and encourage our replacements.

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At the dept I work at right out of fire school I was put I n the driver seat of a quint, boy was I nervous about messing up. I work at a small dept but it's in the getto so we get a lot of fires and med calls. My dept is referred to as the training grounds,because at all the surrounding areas people came from here. Anyway I had no choice but to grow up fast . By my second year I was a acting captain. I would say that it took me about a year to grow up. By the end of my first year I had as much experience as a 5 year vet in the surrounding area .
I try to look at the job with "rookie eyes" on a daily basis, so I can better understand how we "crusties" are perceived and to learn what it takes to motivate and mentor these new guys and girls. I have people working on my battalion who weren't even born the FIRST time I promoted to officer; now I have to relate to these troops and get them to see what I see.

It's a challenge, but I think that if I can understand where they are coming from and convey to them where I am coming from, and focus them on the big picture while showing them their role in that puzzle, together we can achieve greatness.

When I am riding around in my district, sometimes I am reminded how I was worried about the correct method of stretching a line to one of these buildings and now I'm responsible for the daily operational output of 34 people who are facing that same challenge. It really helps to put things in the proper perspective.

Mick Mayers
About 3 1/2 years in the department the chief calls me in the office after drill and says "your name keeps coming up to fill the empty LT spot ,you interested". I said "I don't know give me a few days". At the next drill I pull him aside a say "yeah I'll do it, what do you expect from me". He gets a big grin on his face and says "good question and I see your gonna be a pain in my A**". Those talks and several more over the following weeks with the chief made me realize that I wasn't the rook anymore that I knew what I was doing (lol) and the rest of the department thought so to.
I honestly hope I NEVER stop looking at this job through "Rookie Eyes". Every call is an opportunity to learn something new.
It's not "rookie eyes" that I worry about.
It's a "rookie attitude" that, if it doesn't mature, it will create problems for the department.
For instance; if a "rookie" doesn't wear a seat belt and isn't strongly mentored to change that behavior, it will at some point cause a problem.
But, looking around with rookie eyes; they will always see something that may have been missed or over looked by someone else.
It's not the eyes; it's the attitude.
well said
I agree.....while in my 14 years on the job I don't feel like a rookie, I still try to live by the rookie adage of Keep your ears open and mouth shut. You learn alot that way!

I also agree that there is still TONS to learn about this job and I feel I am always in a state of expanding my knowledge base.

Hi Matt,

It was after the first week working as a seasonal (summertime) emt/firefighter at a beach town.

I had about three years volunteer experience - a weekend warrior at my hometown and one year as a live-in firefighter at the university.

Neither place was busy, two to four responses in a duty day.

The seasonal beach crew was hired to staff ambulances. As a rookie I was assigned the 5 pm to 7 am shift. Ran between six to 14 responses a day, transported 2/3rds of the time.

First night:
Spent the morning after the shift with police detectives recounting the events of a business man who fell off his balcony during a "start the summer" party.

Recalling the declining vital signs during the 42 minute transport to the hospital - I recorded four sets.
Documenting his dying declaration about 30 minutes into the transport. "I am f***ked up."
Admitting that his left ankle was still rotated 360 degrees after I did one rotation and applied a splint.

Third night:
Realized I have been lifting stretchers the wrong way, screaming muscles.
Learning how to apply a 12-lead EKG on a sweaty and terrified patient while the physician was drawing up morphine.

Fourth night:
Second of many confrontations with out-of-control inebriated patients. The beach would tone-out a fire company to assist on CPR calls, all of the other ems events were handled with a two person ambulance and a police officer. Two of the three would be seasonal. We were on our own.

Fifth night:
Realizing how much I did not know, as I watched another sunrise as we drove back from the hospital.

I took over as Chief 2 years ago at the age of 30. In a way I still have my "rookie eyes". My Captain is almost 30 years older than me. He would go anywhere and do anything I tell him. But sometimes, he pulls me aside, and reminds me that I still need to mature as an adult. Never mind a firefighter. We all can learn from the people around us. Even the guy who will never amount to more than a gofer. I love this job. It is stressful. We all have to be willing to learn from each other. No matter what the age or ability. It is the key to our survival. The days of old hard leather heads are gone. People have grown more "Sensitive" with the last few generations. We need to stop treating rookies and juniors like what they are. Open the department to them, give them a job that they can do safely and feel good about. TCSS

Also investing in good whiskey helps all of us. LOL
Let me try to bring this back on track. I am not speaking of looking at the world trying to learn from your daily work detail, but as Chief Reason put it, the rookie attitude. I think a lot of guys start out with an attitude that is less professional then the salty guys would like you to have. It is not all fun and games, and there is no reason to drive 90 in the fog so you can hold an oxygen mask over someone's face, or blowing a stop sign and think it is funny that the LEO let you off, or even run a red light and pass people on your way to clear a tree that has dropped across the road.

When did you stop looking at EVERY page as a TRUE emergency that needed drastic measures to mitigate? And what is it that caused you to change you attitude?
When I became a Lieutenant and realized that I was more responsible for OTHERS actions as firefighters. Leading by example should be a standard for all firefighters, from the Chief to the rookie. I needed to slow down, take a deep breath, and think. I still do. The biggest thing in this job for me is the adrenaline rush. Once you can learn to control that, in my opinion, then you can work on being a good firefighter.

As far as a "Rookie Attitude", there is none. It isn't tolerated. Rookies are expected to read, watch, train, and be constructive.


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