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So Where Can I Serve?

Stew Smith, CSCS

Every now and then I get a question that requires extra effort to answer. This question required every bit of experience I had to answer. If you are on the fence or how or where to serve your country, please read. Stew

I am debating where to serve? Firefighting EMT, Police SWAT, or Military Special Ops. I know you write about all of them – do you have any advice on what you’d recommend? I am trying to do a workout that would help prepare me for all of them as I have about a year before I need to make my decision.

Whew – this is a big question, but a great one! My first opinion is that you cannot go wrong with any of your choices as serving your community in Emergency Services / Law Enforcement or your country in the Military are great professions. So, let’s break it up into two major groups with several sub groups in order to see how people can find elements of these service professions that appeal to them.

First: Community Service – The Community Services you asked about were Fire Fighters, Emergency Medical technician, and Police SWAT teams. Depending on where you live, the opportunities may be better in one state / city than another so these groups may differ from town to town. So generally speaking research into the city/state has to be done to determine the physical fitness entrance standards as well as other requirements and benefits.

Emergency Medicine – To make the decision to serve as a Fire Fighter / EMT you should consider your desire to learn about emergency medicine. You can actually be both a Fire Fighter and an EMT or an EMT only. Both are physically demanding and require academic study, however the Fire Fighter profession is much more so and involves VERY HOT temperatures. Also, there is a type of bravery that not many people have to be able to run into a burning building to save another person.

Dive Teams – Most cities also offer a Public Safety Diver (PSD) program where you will use your skills in the water to rescue or search for people in rivers, lakes, ponds, oceans etc. Many Fire Fighters and Police officers also train as PSD which requires a strong ability in the water / swimming / diving. This is considered a Special Operations team in most cities as you will be diving in usually cold, dark, murky water where you cannot see the hand in front of your face. This requires an ability to be comfortable underwater / in tight enclosed areas.

Police / SWAT – Typically, you have to have at least a few years of experience before trying out and getting accepting into Police Special Weapons and Tactics Teams. Depending on your location (State / City / County) the selection process maybe extremely challenging and very limited acceptance due to space availability on the Team. But these officers are the sharp shooters, rescue specialists, warrant delivery officers when the job gets above and beyond the average officer to handle with safety. First you have to pass a police academy and then become an outstanding police officer in order to later become a SWAT team member. Usually SWAT Team tests are quite challenging. Some require swimming, running and PT with body armor, and expert shooting skills in order to qualify.

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