Life Skills 101, because life can be tough…
Mr. Tommy Gebhart, a Lieutenant from the Foley Fire Department and an E.M.T with Med. Star Ambulance service, was a guest speaker on Sept 11th in Mrs. Major’s Leadership classrooms. All of the automobile wreck photographs you see today were used in his presentation.
Mr. Gebhart said he always wanted to be a fireman for as long as he can remember, from the time he was old enough to have fire truck toys. Things have changed drastically since the early years in Foley. He said the paramedic program/EMS started in 1970 in our area. Before that, people just loaded accident victims up in their vehicle and drove them to the hospital. At that time, the nearest hospital was located in Mobile.
The leading cause of death ages 12 to 20 is trauma. The leading cause of car wrecks is distraction, followed by drinking and driving.
8 out of 10 wrecks could have been avoided if there had been no distractions.
What are automobile distractions for teens?
Head trauma is a huge cause of death among all ages ranges in auto accidents. Our brains float in a bowl of liquid, so in an accident, the brain smashes up against sharp edges in your skull, which can result in brain bleeds, concussions, and brain damage. If the heart slams up against the chest, vessels come loose. Mr. Gebhart explained this is like having a major heart attack right after a wreck. If the heart has been torn loose from vessels, CPR is not going to help save this person’s life.
Mr. Gebhart said he doesn’t make a massive amount of money in his career, but even more important, there is a huge happiness benefit from doing his job well. He said he loves his work, even with the stress he deals with on the job.
Stresses for him include managing and leading the crew he works with, because he said he feels totally responsible for them. He has had to tell strangers their relatives have passed away. He has pulled every age range from wrecks in all sorts of levels of pain and some that had passed away. He has had to pull people from fires and tell others their homes have burned down. He has to talk to the family members of the injured or dying quite often, which is also highly stressful.
Mr. Gebhart said the toughest part of being a firefighter is the effect it has on his family. He goes home after a 24-hour shift, exhausted and irritable, where he said his family bears the brunt of his work stress. But Mr. Gebhart related that he and his wife decided early in their relationship that they would follow their hearts in terms of career decisions, so his family tries to be as understanding with him as often as they can.
Mr. Gebhart said the firefighters frequently talk about the calls they go on, for stress relief and to review the successes and failures of the job. Talking about loss of life and success on the job can help everyone’s stress level be reduced.
Words of wisdom from Lt. Gebhart to remember…
It helps tremendously when people pull their cars over as ambulances and fire trucks go on calls. If you see an emergency vehicle coming, pull your car to the right.
Don’t be the distraction in the car with your friends.
Seatbelts and motorcycle helmets save lives.
Don’t live life with regrets; if you’re going to do something, do it all the way. Don’t settle for being a cook if you should have been a doctor. Don’t settle for being a fireman if you wanted to be an architect. Don’t settle when you could have been and wanted to be more.
Here is Leadership Alumni Zach Gebhart, the Gebhart’s oldest son and a sophomore at Foley High School, stopping by to catch the end of his dad’s presentation.
To read about last year’s visit from Lt. Gebhart and members of the Foley Fire Department, click on this link:
Think you have what it takes to become a Fireman? Fire College in Tuscaloosa can take up to 16 weeks, and the youngest age you can attend Fire College would be 18.
A big word of thanks to Tommy Gebhart for giving up his valuable off day to teach teens ways to stay alive, and thanks to Ryan Gebhart, a Foley freshman and member of the Foley drum line, for inviting his dad to be a guest speaker.
Foley High School Leadership