Preparing for the Worst Day of Your Life

First responders have a tough job. Why? Because they never know when they might face the worst day of their life. Do you think first responders of New York City on September 10th were fully prepared and ready for what would happen the next day?


You never know when that day will come where you’ll have to do and see things that you never thought imaginable. The best thing that you can do is to try and prepare for it the best that you can. That involves both mental and physical training.


The physical training is the easier of the two. You can hit the gym 4-5 times a week, gradually building up your strength and endurance. You can mimic scenarios and movements that you might experience in workouts. Farmer’s carries can stimulate litter carries. Sprints with a vest on can simulate a foot pursuit. Rotational cable exercises can mimic using an axe. If you’re not already including exercises like this in your routine, then I’d say you’re not as prepared as you could be.


Being mentally prepared is a lot harder to train for. Training scenarios are one thing, and they’re certainly beneficial, but it’s hard to fully simulate the chaos of being thrown into a mass casualty situation. In training simulations, you always know in the back of your head that it’s exactly that, training. The simulated patients will be fine, their mock injuries will magically go away once the scenario is over. That doesn’t happen in real life.


So how do you become as mentally prepared as possible? You need to know who you are deep down. Meaning you need to be able to identify the weaknesses that may be brought to light when shit hits that fan. Are you likely to brain dump everything that you know? Are you likely to become flustered and skip steps that you normally wouldn’t? Will the reality of the situation cause you to go into a panic yourself?


Only you have the answers to these questions. It’s up to you to take an honest look at your mental and physical abilities and scope out those pieces of weakness that could make you less prepared than you should be. You never know when that big day will come. That 5-alarm fire, that active shooter, that plane crash, that mass casualty incident. It’s up to you to up your game, thinking all the time about how to best prepare, so you and your team are as ready as you can be for when that big day comes.


Jon Griffith specializes in optimizing performance for firefighters & police. Jon is a personal trainer, firefighter, and former U.S. Army infantryman. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and 3 cats.

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