Part 2 of Jonesboro Firefighter Training: How They Take the Heat

JUNE 29, 2006 -- POSTED AT 10:00 P.M. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- It's Day 2 of practice for the Jonesboro Fire Department. They start on a search to find what they call "Rescue Randy." It's a 165 pound dummy locked inside one of the rooms. It's dark, extremely smoky, and incredibly hot.

"The idea of the danger of it and you kind of picture yourself in the situation and what it would really be like, if it was for real, and not a training exercise," says Stacy Treece, a Jonesboro Firefighter.

Once they use forcible entry to break open the locked door, the aerial rescue is just beginning. They then have to load the dummy onto the stretcher and carefully hand him out the window, all while pretending they're inside a burning building. Once he's secure, it's long drop down. Seven stories to be exact. The guys on the ground then lower the basket, and if it was real, they would be ready to hand the victim off to an ambulance. With all this work, you'd think they were definitely ready for the real thing, but they say you could never be too prepared.

"There's always room for improvement, no matter how many times you do this a year. You do it a 100 times, and you still need the practice. It's not just you do this one time and you're ready to go for the rest of your career. It's something we need to keep doing continuously," says Paul Pittman, a Jonesboro Firefighter.

What about the stress when the real thing does come?

"It just depends on the situation. If there was a real life involved, then yes, it would be extremely stressful especially trying to find them in a building this large, trying to find one person. You'd have to a lot of people, a lot of floors and a lot of rooms to search," says Pittman.

And that's exactly why they say practice pays off.

"You have to make it feel real, that way you're prepared for when it really does happen," says Treece.

"When the time does come to actually do it live, you don't have to think about what you're doing, it's almost an instinct," adds Pittman.