First responders increase the use of helmet cameras for training

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — Local firefighters say they are increasing the use of helmet cameras on calls to be able to learn and teach new recruits.

Each day tells a different story for first responders, facing new battles and saving lives each and every day. But, have you ever wondered what these first responders see? How they battle a house fire, or respond to hundreds of calls?

You now have the chance to see things from a first repsonders point of view thanks to helmet camera footage that captured calls and training sessions over this past year.

“It’s just a good tool we probably have eight or nine of our own personnel that have them,” North Park Fire Department Deputy Chief Brian Kunce said.

Kunce says it’s a growing trend that is bringing new growth to fire departments and a new set of knowledge to recruits who are able to use the footage for real life training.

“The biggest benefit is the training,” Kunce said.

“You can actually see what the right and the wrong way to do things and how experienced firefighters do what they do and how they do it best,” Loves Park recruit Samantha Jecha said.

It’s a concept similar to sports, it’s a firefighter’s version of watching game tape by looking back at calls and learning from what they see and being able to make corrections from any mistakes.

“It’s coaching in the moment so that we know you’re doing this and its going to be a lot harder and more strenuous and you’re going to tire yourself out more.” Jecha said.

For new recruits like Jecha, she says this type of training allows her to excel at her job and be able to pick up on the right way to do things much faster.

“It’s hands on experience actually getting to see exactly whats going on, instead of sitting at a desk and listening to someone try to explain what’s going on,” Jecha said.

After hearing about the hands on training, 13 News Reporter, Megan Hedstrom decided to suit up to get a taste of the hands on experience that these new recruits are talking about.

There was extremely low visibility inside the house fire training as firefighters navigated their way around the two story home. At the top of the stairs, each training group came face to face with a large blaze as the veterans taught the rookies the best way to battle a blaze.

The recruits learned which types of hoses to use,and how to sweep a house for victims. But most importantly, the amount of hard work these first reponsders put in each and every day.

“It’s really all about hands on because that’s what we do, everything is physical and hands on,” Jecha said.

Multiple fire departments utilizing this newer tool in hopes of better educating the future of first repsonders for years to come.

Firefighters say the helmet cameras cost around $300 and can withstand heat up to 700 degrees without malfunctioning.


Helmet Cameras
Megan Hedstrom

Megan Hedstrom


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