Leadership Lessons: The value of training

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jamie Cleveland
  • 319th Medical Support Squadron Physical Therapy NCOIC
When we think about all the training we have to do, we get frustrated and sometimes don't always understand the purpose. Instead of being frustrated by the training, have you ever stopped to think how the training you have received has helped you and/or made you better? Training comes in so many different shapes and forms, and we all learn and take things from training differently. I would like to share a story with you how a specific training has come in handy and it's not training directly related to my job.

Now days, it isn't difficult to receive Basic Life Skills (BLS), but I didn't have to have it until after I cross-trained into physical therapy in 1999. I am grateful to have received it, for it has allowed me to respond quickly without hesitation. Training on dummies prepares you, but you never forget the first time you have to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on a real person.

It was August 2001 in North Carolina, and I was having dinner prior to my shift at my part time job. A man rushes in and yells, "call 911, a girl is passed out in her car!" I ran out and saw that she was passed out in the passenger seat, windows up, keys in ignition and doors locked. I had no idea how long she had been in there or what her current condition was. I tried everything to get into the car or to get her to respond. I finally decided to use a bar from inside to bust open the back window for me to get in. Another lady from the restaurant helped me get the girl out of the car and we immediately began CPR until the paramedics arrived.

Once the paramedics left with her, I started my shift as normal. Friends of the girl came back to the restaurant to thank me for my attempt at saving her life but it was too late. Sadly, she was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital. After hearing this, it hit me. The girl in the car was just 20 years old and died of an overdose. Although this story of mine doesn't have a happy ending, it is because of the CPR training that I received I was able to implement it at a moment's notice.

We question training, thinking it's a waste of time and that we would never use it. When the truth is, every piece of training we receive has some value and can help us at any moment. My challenge to you is to think about the training you've received and how it helped you. For leaders, you are challenged even more because not only do you have to find the value in training, you need to figure out how to get your Airmen to value the training as well. The saying, "practice how you would play" is true and we should be taking every training opportunity serious because you never know where you will be or what kind of situation you'll find yourself in. I hope I never have to use my BLS training again on a real person, but I am confident I will respond quickly and accurately. I leave you with one final thought from Aristotle. "Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."