Many years ago when I started my career in emergency response, I asked myself one question – WHY? The answer is still forthcoming but the events leading up to the answer have been unbelievable.

My father worked in the coal mining industry for 44 years. Many people would get hurt or become trapped, so he joined the underground rescue team. I did the same thing.

I have been doing rescue for 30 years and still feel the same way that I did about it all those years ago. The one common thing that comes to mind with each rescue, rescue competition, training or class I teach is what my father said …“It’s time to shine, son.”

There is no glory in rescue. There is no extra pay except knowing we have done all that is possible. There is no extra thank you, pat on the back or award except what we give ourselves.

So what am I getting at? In one world -- COMPETITION. noun com·pe·ti·tion \ˌkäm-pə-ˈti-shən\: the act or process of trying to get or win something (such as a prize or a higher level of success) that someone else is also trying to get or win: the act or process of competing and being evaluated by your peers: actions that are done by people, companies, etc., that are competing against each other the competition: person or group you are trying to succeed against: a person or group you are competing with.

Why do we do it? Why run into a fire, repel off a building or work a car crash with someone pinned? We do it because we care.

Learning about the Golden Hour in the first days in EMS is important to get the patient to definitive care as soon as possible. How is this accomplished if the training is never test the training that you have? How do you get faster? Better? Improve your skills?

Competition is the answer. Competition must involve a line item scenario-based time-driven scenario, an evaluation against a given set of standards to raise the bar on your ability. In short, to test yourself.

The International Emergency Rescue and Care Association (IRECA) was started in 1948 by people who wanted to be better at their craft. It provides classes and competitions in a variety of rescue and EMS venues. This coming year it focuses on three areas: seven person technical rescue, four person rescue/medical aid and three person BLS.

The Seven Person Technical Rescue

The challenge offers a test of high-angle, below-grade, and confined space skills and critical thinking in a timed event (45-minutes to one-hour per scenario).

Can you and your team succeed in removing the patient from his environment while being timed and scored on teamwork, skills and leadership?

Are you a high flyer, mule or medic? Can you use a ladder as a derrick, lash a davit, set up a tripod, repel, lash a basket or set up haul systems with mechanical advantages without damaging your equipment or injuring the patient?

This challenge relies on solid patient skills and technical skills. The test is not just once or twice, but over and over again with different scenarios, all day long in the heat, – sweat pouring, muscles tired and cramping hands.

Can you haul when your captain tells you to haul even after you have done it countless times already? Can you invert to work on a suspended patient 100 feet off up to secure an airway without dropping to the ground? If you can do all these tasks against the clock, this challenge is for you.

The Four Person Rescue/Medical Event

Designed to test everything that the seven person technical rescue measures in skill, challengers are scored on dealing with each medical issue.

Regardless of which training method or tools used, these scenario-based problems involve extreme medical complications and rescue retrievals done with limited manpower.

Can you perform CPR for 30 minutes without a break? Can you set a fracture to return the pulse to a limb that may die without it? Can you deliver a baby and still rescue the mother who has been trapped in a collapse? The event covers everything – crush injuries, gear missing, traumatic amputations, eviscerations, rescue breathing, mechanical airways and adjuncts, C spine, retrieval devices, and hauls systems. Never mind the heat, rain, mud or even confined spaces requiring breathing air. It is all hands-on work. As with the seven-person technical rescue challenge, this is done over and over against the clock.

The Three Person BLS

This EMT challenge is a three-person, scenario-based, time evaluated event based on National Registry Emergency Medical Technician skills and knowledge. Solid evaluations with score sheets reflect exactly what you did or did not do. Scenarios usually require 20 minutes of immediate care, then handing off to the transporting unit. Work under, over and in cars, rooms, boats, planes, trains, offices and bedrooms. This is good old fashioned blood and guts rescue work.

Can you use good skills to save a drowning victim in a pool without paralyzing or drowning yourself? Can you deliver babies, keep guts from falling out and secure airways while reassuring the patient?

You Are Invited

All scoring is based on NREMT skill sheets, Brady 12 (or latest edition) and American Heart Association. Rescue skills are taken from The International Manual of Basic Rescue by Dawson Nethercutt and High Angle Rescue Techniques by Tom Vines and Steve Hudson. Come and play, check your skills, and see what happens. Meet great people, including the kids from OEC in Minnesota who are taking EMT in high school and already competing in the BLS challenge. Do not count them out. They are tough, smart and funny. Make lifelong friends and develop new sources for information and ideology. Learn something about yourself, your skills and your team. Visit www.ireca.org for more information.