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The John Vanatta Story. Part 1 – SAM 349

This episode is Part 1 of a 2-part interview with Deputy Chief John Vanatta discussing a training exercise that went wrong and resulted in two firefighter injuries after falling 10 feet  on to concrete.

The Denver Drill that John discusses had been performed all week using two ladders and two firefighters at the sill.  But the crew on duty on this day was confident that they could perform the drill using one ladder and one firefighter.  In the process of removing Chief Vanatta (the victim) from the window, the officer on the ladder had to assist in pulling him through the window, which caused Chief Vanatta to be inverted (face up versus face down). In an effort to correct his positioning, Chief Vanatta rolled off the ladder.  The officer grabbed onto Chief Vanatta and both of them fell 10 feet to the concrete.  Recovery from their injuries took 2-3 months.

Deputy Fire Chief John Vanatta Jr. joined the Siloam Springs Fire Department in January 2017. DC Vanatta is the department training officer, an adjunct instructor for the Arkansas Fire Training Academy, and is currently the President of the Northwest Arkansas Metro Chief’s Training Officers Association. He is also the Captain/Training Officer of the Lincoln, AR Volunteer Fire Department. His credentials include a Masters degree from Eastern Michigan University, the CPSE Chief Fire Officer credential, and NREMT Paramedic.

Prior to moving to Siloam Springs, Chief Vanatta retired from Clinton Township Fire-Rescue-EMS in Michigan at the rank of Battalion Chief. He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve as an Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Chief, attaining the rank of Master Gunnery Sergeant. In 2008-2009, he deployed to Iraq and served as a military civil affairs liaison to the Iraqi Fire Service.

Length: 39 Minutes

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About the Host

Richard B. Gasaway, PhD, CSP is widely considered a trusted authority on human factors, situational awareness and the high-risk decision making processes used in high-stress, high consequence work environments. He served 33 years on the front lines as a firefighter, EMT-Paramedic, company officer, training officer, fire chief and emergency incident commander.  His doctoral research included the study of cognitive neuroscience to understand how human factors flaw situational awareness and impact high-risk decision making.


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