Hands-on firefighter training goes virtual

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LONDON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Even though many Kentuckians are staying healthy at home, first responders are still needed to keep everyone safe.

That’s why even firefighters are adapting, by turning what would normally be very hands-on training into virtual training.

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“Nothing we can do virtually will ever take the place of the actual hands-on,” says Marc Rudder, director of State Fire Rescue Training

However, he says he’s willing to try in order to keep firefighters healthy and properly trained.

Rudder says training isn’t just needed for those trying to get certified for the first time, but also for career firefighters in need of refresher courses and volunteers across the state.

However, he says it’s hard adjusting to the new normal.

“I would rather be standing up behind the chair that I’m sitting in talking to you,” Rudder says. “And we have those mechanisms in place using webcams to allow our instructors to lecture in front of an empty room because that’s where they’re comfortable.””

Instructors try to show students videos of real life scenarios, such as the moments before a room collapses during a house fire, or how to properly handle traffic during a fire on a highway.

London-based instructor, Wes Hacker, says it’s a challenge for everyone.

“This is a learning curve for both the students and the instructors,” Hacker says. “It’s more difficult, it’s more labor intensive.”

But Marc Rudder says many of the students are happy to be at home training rather than not training at all.

He says the training is a part of Governor Andy Beshear’s budget, so he thinks it should be able to continue for however long the coronavirus outbreak prevents in-person meetings.