Harder than it looks: First responders go to driving school - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Harder than it looks: First responders go to driving school

For many of these officers, it's their first time behind the wheel of a fire truck. For many of these officers, it's their first time behind the wheel of a fire truck.
Drivers learn how to multi-task while operating large pieces of equipment. Drivers learn how to multi-task while operating large pieces of equipment.
Major Doyle Welch with Bainbridge Public Safety Fire Division Major Doyle Welch with Bainbridge Public Safety Fire Division
Michael Smith with Bainbridge Public Safety Michael Smith with Bainbridge Public Safety
THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) -

First responders face dangerous road conditions each day as they work to respond to emergencies quickly and safely.

For many of these officers, it's their first time behind the wheel of a fire truck.

"The cones are a lot cheaper to hit than a vehicle or a building. So today's a practice day for them," said Major Doyle Welch with Bainbridge Public Safety Fire Division. "They're out here practicing. We're destroying a few cones, but that's better than the real thing."

Bainbridge Public Safety officers go through the training course once a year to become familiar with the size and movement of their trucks.

"They really have to judge the distance and maneuver the vehicle in tights spots," said Welch.

But officers say this course teaches more than driving skills. Drivers learn how to multi-task while operating large pieces of equipment.

"Not only am I sitting here driving this vehicle to an emergency, I'm working a siren, I'm watching traffic, I may have to talk on the radio," said Michael Smith with Bainbridge Public Safety. "It's just a lot of responsibility."

He admits multi-tasking becomes even more difficult when distracted drivers get in the way.

"They may have their music turned up loud where they can't see the lights and hear the sirens when we come up behind them. You have drivers that text on phones and aren't paying attention to the road," Smith said.

So officers train until they get it right, making sure they're ready for any obstacle, arriving in the safest and quickest way possible.

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