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Training - It really can save a life

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Does this sound familiar -- "You have training next week" or "You're deploying; you need to get those computer based trainings done," and you're thinking "not again" or "why am I doing this?" We've all been there and we've all griped at least once, but there is a reason for training.

Training helps us to grow both professionally and personally. What you take from the training session is all dependent on your mindset. Channel your energy on the positive aspects of training, not the negative. Ask yourself, "How can I benefit from this?"

I am a training manager in the 52nd Maintenance Operations Squadron's Maintenance Training Flight. My flight is responsible for ensuring standardized training for approximately 1,800 52nd Maintenance Group members. Our primary goal is to identify and meet personnel training needs. We take great pride in our daily efforts to instill knowledge and skills to help people improve their job performance. Training is important, and despite the complaints, I know people understand the need.

Let me share a story with you about two of my Airmen, from the technical sergeant's perspective then tell me if training is important.

This is the technical sergeant's story:
March 13 was like any other day off except my boss and I decided to take a trip snowboarding. Since we are the only ones in our shop who enjoy the sport it was just us two. I picked him up around 9 a.m. and we headed out to the Netherlands. Though it was a three-day weekend, we decided to take a day-trip up to Snow World instead of traveling down to the Alps.

Once we arrived, we bought two day passes and went to the slopes. The day started light with the warm-ups. My boss was working on his turns and getting better control of his board. On the fourth run my boss went down the hill first.

When I finished strapping into my bindings, I slid down to the base of the hill. The first thing I noticed was the base of my boss's board sticking up straight. When I got to him he was face down in the snow, almost like he was asleep. I thought he was joking at first until I saw the pool of blood soaking through the snow.

I immediately checked for signs of respiration. Once I established he was still breathing, I checked for any signs of a spinal injury. There was no abnormality along his spinal cord and no clear liquid protruding from the ears or nose. I then proceeded to check for further injuries. Finding none, I tried to revive him. Approximately five minutes later he finally regained consciousness. He was able to roll over and sit up with some help.

By this time a few people stopped to ask if he was OK and a Snow World staff member had been notified. He couldn't remember where he was, how he got there or what day it was. His eyes were dilated. Noticing the signs of a concussion, I figured we needed to get him to the hospital right away. My boss was pretty banged up; he cut his lip and took a chunk out of the left side of his face.

During the entire trip to the hospital, my boss repeated the same questions every five minutes. "Where are we, how did we get here, and what day is it?" About half way to the hospital he was able to remember what day it was. I engaged him in conversation to make sure he would stay awake.

The good news is the Airman survived with only a few bruises and a minor concussion. This was due to the technical sergeant's immediate application of his life-saving self aid buddy care skills training.

So the next time you wonder why you're in training, think back to this story. In this case, it helped prevent the loss of a highly-valued team member. No matter what type of training you attain, there are always benefits. You never know when you will need to use it, and it's good to have that knowledge.

As the old cliché goes, "It's better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it."