to your success. It starts and stops at the same spot, in your mind,
and that is an unrivaled, unequaled asset to possess.
DISTRACTIONS ARE DEADLY
How often to you think about your potential (and probable) des-
tiny with the firefighter’s edge? I can tell you openly, I think about
it frequently. Maybe this is a byproduct of my police days, when
it seemed all but a foregone conclusion on every call, or maybe
it’s just my fatalistic view of the world (please note the sarcasm).
Regardless, it’s never too far from the front of my thoughts, and
I believe firefighters need to embrace this as a probability in their
Thought control is imperative in a life-or-death engagement.
Fight with a focused deliberateness and win the day! The most
vivid example I can share with you to express the essence of this
statement, highlighting the significance of ignoring mental distrac-
tions in ominous times of conflict, comes from captivating police
training I received where imagery was permanently seared across
my mind’s eye.
While working on patrol, we routinely received defensive tactics
training (arrest control measures) to help stay sharp and competent with physical altercations. On this particular day at police
headquarters, our trainer was a highly esteemed and well-respected
police officer who practiced mixed martial arts as a pastime.
During the session, he made a profound point that startled the
class and stuck me emphatically. His asked questions similar to these:
“How many of you carry knives? Why do you carry knives? Is it to
stab someone if you find yourself in a fight to the death?” Heads
nodded around the room. He continued, “Have you ever thought
of what it would be like to stab someone? The facial expression from
your victim: his sweat on your face, his spit in your eye, his blood
on your hands, his last utterance or cry in your ear? Have you ever
thought of what it would be like to physically stick a knife into
someone? Well, if you haven’t, you had better! Because if the first
time you think of this actuality comes in a time of combat, you may
not fully follow through with the action required to save your life!”
The somber stares around the room were penetrating, and the
subsequent silence was deafening. Many of us had taken deliberate
time to contemplate where we would carry our knife on our belt or
in our boot but, astonishingly, few of us had thought thoroughly
about the “fight to the death” that might arise in which we would
use said knife. His teaching point was appropriate for police officers, and it is likewise apropos for firefighters also.
WELCOME THE WORST CASE
In line with this “police” tactical-style thinking, I reiterate the
training officer’s point: The first time you think of it cannot be the
time you are engaged in trying to escape death’s firm grip. Even
still, I wish to take the exercise a step further.
I greatly encourage each of you to ponder, with deep concentration, the detailed description of a possible survival landscape. Put
yourself through the mental repetitions of visualization. Wear your
self-contained breathing apparatus, turn off the lights, and actualize in your thoughts the heat of the fire intensifying, the anxiety
THE WINNER’S EDGE