Training helps area firefighters stay sharp
SUMMIT COUNTY Over the static on the two-way radio firefighters hear the one word that sends a shot of adrenaline rushing through their veins: Mayday. The Mayday call signals that one of their own is in trouble, and the gut reaction of every firefighter is to rush into the burning building to save them. As smoke spills out from under the doorway, firefighters equip themselves with axes and gas masks as they prepare to enter the house and save the life of a co-worker. Navigating through murky, smoke-filled hallways, firefighters approach a hole in the floor and peer down to see a body laying motionless in the rubble; and its wearing a firefighters helmet.Now, what do you do to get him out of there? Battalion Chief Herb George asks a group of eager firefighters ready to answer. Although this is just a drill, and the body lying on the ground is only a dummy, the situation is one that firefighters always need to be prepared for when arriving at a live fire. Last week in Breckenridge, local firefighters from Red, White & Blue Fire Protection, Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue, and Copper Mountain Fire Department got the opportunity to run through a myriad of rescue scenarios as they conducted training at a donated residential structure.We werent able to actually burn the structure due to asbestos, but we put simulated smokes machines inside so firefighters could practice rescues and work on ventilation techniques, said Captain Kim Scott with Red, White & Blue Fire Protection. According to Scott, the training exercises conducted at donated structures are imperative to keeping firefighters from different departments on the same page. Given that Summit County has more than one fire district, firefighters must follow the same protocol once on scene so that multiple departments can work as one unit.We want to teach these guys to check their adrenaline and approach every site in a more calculated manner, said Capt. Scott. Its not just running into a burning building anymore. Firefighters need to assess how long a structure has been burning, whats burning, and how sound the structure is before entering.Rescue work made up a large part of last weeks training, and Battalion Chief Herb George let firefighters listen to an actual Mayday call from a structure fire in Westminster, Colorado as they stared down at the dummy awaiting rescue in the rubble. File this stuff away guys, Chief George said to the firefighters participating in the drill. You want to make sure you think of everything when it comes time to pull him up.In addition to practicing rescue techniques, firefighters worked on roof ventilation, ladder work, and communication protocols during emergencies. This is a good refresher for us because we dont do a lot of these scenarios in real life, so its good to be prepared, said Capt. Scott. In this training session, the smoke filled house acts as the classroom, and there is a pop quiz waiting around every corner. Help me! Help me! cried a firefighter posing as a victim from a second story window.Without hesitation, a group of firefighters carried a ladder over to the side of the house and methodically went through several different ways to safely retrieve the victim. Always address the victim before dealing with the ladder, Red, White & Blue Capt. Drew Hoehn instructed. Always remember to evaluate risk and make sure you never take your eyes off the person you are trying to save.The acquired structure training in Breckenridge provided local firefighters with a chance to practice those techniques critical to saving both lives and property. After the dust settled and the smoke cleared, firefighters walked away from training with a better sense of how to approach a live fire, and how to stay calm if they ever hear a Mayday call on the radio. Obviously a Mayday is one of the most serious scenarios we deal with, said Capt. Scott. We want to make sure firefighters are taking every safety precaution when they arrive at a scene because, at the end of the day, saving lives is the main priority.Ashley Dickson can be reached at (970) 668-4629, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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