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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Emergency Vehicle Operations

I spent most of today at Duluth International practicing my driving skills in a squad car.  It was my turn to attend the once every three years, mandated training. Our police vehicles travel well over one million miles a year and Duluth PD's most common accident involves backing up and hitting something.  This information, along with the fact more officers are killed each year in driving deaths than any other manner determine the tyoe of training we receive.  Learning safe driving skills is priority number one.  Some of the training involved quick turn and stops, backing up, and high speed accident avoidance.

We used a long unused taxiway and a de-icing area for the exercises.  It was almost 20 years ago that I first experienced this training at the Milwaukee
County Sheriff's Department. 
Back then we used the parking lot at the old County Stadium (which was demolished a couple of years later).  The cars and training has changed substantially.  Anti-lock brakes were not in our vocabulary and 10 and 2 where the hand positions.  Now, due to air bags and improvements in the training we are trained to keep the ands at 4 and 8.  We are now taught to use shuffling of the hands on the wheel at higher speed turns, instead of my early instructors yelling to "snap" the wheel which would sometimes send the car spinning out of control.  The 1989 Chev Caprices we were using had these huge cow catcher push bumpers that extended a good few inches beyond the width of the car.

I couldn't find a picture of the cars we were using, but this push bumper was similar to what they had at the time.  They looked ominous, but were great for pushing freeway wrecks out of the way in a hurry.  It was the closest you could get to having a front end loader as a squad.

So that was my day...I don't need to be thrown around side to side in a car for a while and look forward to a slow and calm car ride for a bit.
Oh yeah, one of the other differences between today and when I was in recruit school almost 20 years ago; I didn't get yelled at today.....

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