Firefighters hit the dirt to improve their skills

Training exercise teaches methods of trench rescue

April 02, 2000|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Imagine being partially buried at the bottom of a 13-foot-deep trench, where loose dirt walls could come tumbling down any minute.

Then you look up and see the faces of a specially trained crew of rescuers offering reassurance that you will get out safely.

To prepare for such an emergency, Carroll County's Advanced Technical Rescue Team held a classroom and trench rescue training exercise yesterday. It continues today at Wihters participated in the exercise.

Sessions include lessons in safety and the correct use of equipment.

Dangerous work

If safety procedures are not followed, the rescue may not be successful, Lenny Yox, one of the founding members of the ATR team, told the class.

The rescue could even turn deadly, he said.

"You don't go into the trench to trade one life for another," Yox said. "You should always be your own No. 1. Your crew is your No. 2, and the guy you're there to rescue is rekked to a farm behind the firehouse where two trenches had been dug, one 13 feet deep, the other 10 feet.

After laying out the equipment the group would need to shore up the trenches, they broke for lunch, then returned to the field for practice.

Compassion for victims

But Yox also stressed the need to have compassion for the victim. "These people need all the compassion and medical and emotional support you can give them," he said.

After classroom instruction, the group trekked to a farm behind the firehouse where two trenches had been dug, one 13 feet deep, the other 10 feet.

After laying out the equipment the group would need to shore up the trenches, they broke for lunch, then returned to the field for practice.

Long procedure

It took two hours to shore up the first trench, allowing rescuers to begin extricating the imaginary victim.

A typical rescue operation includes evaluating the situation, dropping a ventilating hose into the trench for freshe trench so rescuers can safely get close enough to do their job.

"Ground temperature is 48 to 52 degrees below ground level, so you might want to put a heater down there, too," said Byron Welker, an ATR team member.

Final stage

Only after the preliminary safety precautions and monitoring are done can boards be put in place along the walls of the trench to reinforce them. Once the boards are secure, extrication begins.

It's an exhausting process for victim and rescuer. But rescuers sned right to get them out."

Today's trench rescue practice is at 1 p.m. behind Mayeski Park next to the Winfield firehouse, 1320 W. Old Liberty Road.

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