“In the scenario, a person fell off the roof of the hospital to another level,” said Rick Gregg, technical rescue instructor for the Alabama Fire College. “The firefighters had to go down and rescue the victim in a Stokes basket. The team on the roof hauled the victim and the rescuer back up and then they had to lower the victim down the other side of the building—about a five-story lower.”
Gregg said the scenario took about an hour-and-a-half, which is an excellent time. The participants included 12 firefighters from Pell City, one from Bessemer and one from Margaret, who were taking the Technical Rescue Rope I course.
“They did a good job,” Gregg said. “And they were safe. Everything we do in training is keyed on safety—safety and backup. We backup all systems to make sure they are super safe.”
Gregg said the Rope I course is a prerequisite for all the other technical rescue courses the Alabama Fire College teaches.
“This is something we have envisioned for about a year now, and it is finally coming to pass,” said Assistant Fire Chief Mike Burdette.
Burdette said the 40-hour Rope I course teaches high angle rescue techniques for areas not easily accessible by regular techniques.
“An example is if someone falls out a window, then these firefighters can rappel down with a Stokes basket, treat the victim, and hoist them back to the roof,” he said. “As our city grows and building sizes increase, this is something that could come into play. Another example would be a construction site incident, or dealing with water tanks or radio towers. We are trying to refine our training and make it suit our city in the best ways we can.”
Burdette said about one-third of the Pell City firefighters completed the course Friday.
“Our future plans are for the rest of the full-time personnel to receive this training, tentatively in September and November,” he said.
Burdette said the fire service is very diversified now.
“It’s not just spraying water,” he said. “There is the paramedic/EMS aspect, HAZMAT, and technical rescue to include rope, water, trench and structural collapse. We are trying to stay up with the times.”
Burdette said various firefighters throughout the department already have certain certifications in all of the technical rescue areas.
“We are trying to broaden the training goal and get all of our firefighters trained in each area as our budget allows,” he said. “We are looking at a training calendar to schedule training in the other three technical rescue areas for 2013.”
Pell City firefighter Aaron Vines said it was his first time taking the ropes course.
“It’s been very helpful,” he said. “We always work together well and were able to achieve all of our objectives in the training exercises. The high angle rope techniques can be used in so many ways, not just rappelling off buildings. An example would be a car accident off a steep ditch or ravine. Knowing these techniques would make it safer for everybody—us and the victims.”
Pell City firemedic Brad Presley said this training will allow him to perform his job better.
“This is not something that happens all the time, but when it does you have to know how to do it and train on how to do it,” he said.
Contact Elsie Hodnett at email@example.com.