Foley High School Leadership

Life Skills 101, because life can be tough…

Guest Speaker: Mr. Tommy Gebhart from the Foley Fire Dept.

Mr. Tommy Gebhart from the Foley Fire Department spoke in Mrs. Major’s Leadership classes on May 16th. Mr. Gebhart, the father of 4th block Leadership student Zach Gebhart,  brought Kevin Barnwell, Brandon Irwin, and Nelson Bauer with him to assist with the big equipment.

Mr. Gebhart said that coming to speak to a Leadership class, he wanted to stress that being a leader is doing the right thing, even what that’s hard to do. It’s hard for all of us to do. He said he wants to leave a legacy. He feels that his job is to widen the road that firefighters from years prior left for him. He said he feels this is his calling.

He explained that he started at the bottom of the ranks of the Fire Dept., and through following outstanding leadership and hard work, he worked his way up through the ranks during over 2o years of time with the Fire Dept. He described Fireman as guys who wanted to help other people, with a zest for life and a passion for saving lives and fighting fires.

He said safety is their number one priority at the Foley Fire Department.

Mr. Gebhart showed a video clip about firefighter Louis Mulkey, another firefighter who was a leader and paved the way for other leaders, who lost his life battling a fire in 2007.  You can read about it here.

You can watch the ESPN Outside the Lines video here.

I looked up the “Great White” video Mr. Gebhart showed, and this description is just as raw as the footage shot by the cameraman.

Warning; this is gruesome, and not for the faint-hearted. Raw video, shot by a fan in attendance at The Station nightclub in Rhode Island, has surfaced of the pyrotechnics-induced fire at a Great White show in 2003. Let’s take a moment to remember the bloody travesty that occurred that day.

Watching this video is like a mini-version of watching the twin towers fall. It’s gut-wrenching. It starts innocently enough with the opening chords of a song; seconds later three streams of pyro ignite and the audience responds with riotous applause. About 27 seconds in the camera catches a glimpse of leftover flame on the right of the stage, and within 10 seconds the room is full of smoke and the cameraman sneaks to the back of the room. The band stops and Great White frontman Jack Russell exclaims, “Oh, Wow. That’s not good.” All hell breaks loose.

The fire alarms squeal, and it’s a mad dash of manic pushing and shoving for the exits. Screaming, panic, shouting, chaos. Thankfully this cameraman gets out alive and films the ensuing chaos from the outside. Torturous screams from the bowels of hell can be heard from outside the club which now has black smoke pouring out of every edifice. Crying, running, screaming, pandemonium. By a minute and a half in the whole place is a fiery furnace of death with people still attempting to push their way out the door. A smoke-covered woman exclaims, “Oh my God, I’m bleeding!” Cries of “Where’s my friend??” are everywhere as escapees anxiously look on in search of their friends. A man carrying a comatose friend on his back screams “I need a medic! I need a medic! Give me a medic!”

You can click here for the 10 minute video.This particluar video also provides timing updates as to how fast the fire spreads in 30 second intervals.

Mr. Gebhart explained this was the most difficult video for him to watch, because this was an example of just incredibly poor leadership and lack of judgement, with a loss of life at 100 people.

Mr. Gebhardt described multiple times his life had been in danger on the job, a risk he is 100% willing to take to ensure the safety of others.

Firefighters work 24 hours shifts, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The toughest part of being a firefighter is the impact on the families, with a fireman frequently being stressed out and tired from long shifts and work incidents.

Mr. Gebhart is also a paramedic three or four times a month.

How do they deal with stress? They talk about their issues, they pick on and at each other, trying to find the humor in life amid the chaos of a stressful career.

Mr. Gebhardt  said that most of the wrecks he sees involving teens deal with cell phones. Phones are often found in vehicles with unfinished messages – half a word typed – that had not been sent. Clearly drivers are texting and driving.

Think you have what it takes to become a Fireman? Fire College can take up to 16 weeks, and the youngest age you can attend Fire College would be 18. Assisted by Mr. Gebhart, here’s our 1st block Leader and potential Fireman, Will Hamric, demonstrating his game face with the Jaws of Life.

Mr. Gebhart’s message to teens?

  • Put your cell phones down in a car.
  • Pay attention when you drive.
  • Seat belts save lives.
  • Don’t ever drink and drive.

We would like to thank Mr. Gebhart,  Mr. Barnwell, Mr. Irwin, and Mr. Bauer for bringing their equipment and spending the day at Foley High School. We really appreciate their time.

We would like to thank all the Foley Fireman for placing their lives in danger for the protection of our community. We send you our best wishes for safety and thank you for all you do.

A. Major

Foley High School Leadership


One comment on “Guest Speaker: Mr. Tommy Gebhart from the Foley Fire Dept.

  1. Pingback: Lieutenant Tommy Gebhart, Fireman and E.M.T guest speaker « Foley High School Leadership

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This entry was posted on May 17, 2012 by in Leadership Guest Speakers.
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