Responding to emergency calls with reds, siren and air horn is very dangerous and the driver of the apparatus needs to be in constant control of the vehicle and their surroundings at all times and they also need to be alert to the other drivers on the road, pedestrians, traffic control devices and any other road obstacles and in all types of weather and time of day.
Personnel are provided with in-service training both in lecture and practical to enhance their driving skills and all new employees go through a “Driver Certification Program” in which they have to be certified to drive each fire apparatus in the District.
Recently the Southern Manatee Fire Rescue District purchased a Simuride Professional Driving Simulator. This computerized driving simulator provides many different types of response scenarios (i.e. urban, suburban, rural settings) day or night and in all types of weather with all types of obstacles, from pedestrians crossing the road, riding bikes, to debris lying on the street with all types of traffic control devices (hanging traffic lights, corner lights, stop signs, speed limit signs, etc.) and with all types of distractions including the noise from their siren, air horn, radio traffic and much more).
Our simulator works like you are really driving a fire apparatus. As soon as you get into the driver’s seat, you must put on your seat belt, adjust your mirrors, foot on brake and start the engine with a key FOB like device, put the shifter into drive (you can select automatic or manual transmission, if you select manual, then you will need to use the clutch for shifting) and off you go.
When a scenario is selected the computer evaluates all actions by the driver as the complete the scenario. At the completion of the scenario, the computer provides a report over the persons driving habits, everything from safety devices being used, speed, intersection negotiations, proper stopping at stop lights and stop signs, lane changing, and much much more.
This Emergency Driving Simulator will enhance the driving skills of our employee’s and future employee’s and will assist in helping to prevent accidents and injuries during the operation and driving of emergency apparatus.
Captain Crawford did submit the cost of this Emergency Driving Simulator to Preferred Training Incentive Program Training Program, a grant program provided by our work comp carrier and was notified that the District was approved for reimbursement. This grant program is a reimbursement grant that will fund ½ the cost of a project up to $5000.00. On September 29, 2016 the District was awarded a check for $3600.00, which is ½ the cost of our simulator.