Seconds count during emergencies, firefighters learn

(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

GREENE COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - Specialized training took place in Greene County on Wednesday.

The Paragould Fire Department hosted Vehicle Rescue and Extrication training taught by the Advanced Extrication Organization.

Lead Instructor and owner of Advanced Extrication, Brock Archer, said firefighters from all over the country participated in the training.

"We're training the Paragould Fire Department," Archer said. "And a lot of surrounding departments. We've even got departments as far as Georgia here training. What firefighters face on a daily or weekly basis, is they respond to these traffic accidents. And vehicle extrication and rescue is one of the most challenging tasks rescuers are asked to perform."

Paragould Fire Chief Kevin Lang said they selected Advanced Extrication because they knew the instructors would be good.

"We sent a couple of our guys to the Heavy Rescue class and got to know this instructor," Lang said. "We got to talking to him and he was willing to come and do this for us. We need to do this training to stay updated. All these guys have had extrication training, but it's really good to stay updated. He's teaching some new techniques. We're learning some things about some newer vehicles, hybrid and electrical vehicles. So, there's a lot of new information we haven't had. And it's really been a good class. We've got people here from multiple states. It's been a good class. The guys have really enjoyed it. They've had to work hard, but I think they've enjoyed it."

Archer said it's vital emergency responders stay current.

"Firefighters are faced with a variety of different types of entrapments on the roadway," Archer said. "So, it may be something as simple as just removing the door. Just opening the door up. The door could be jammed. Or it could be something so advanced where they're needing to remove a dashboard off of an occupant. So, there's a wide range of scenarios a rescuer may find themselves in and they have to make split-second decisions on how to mitigate that emergency and safely remove the occupant."

"It's not simply about cutting on the car to get the person out," Lang said. "You've got to make sure what you're doing when you're manipulating that car is not causing more of a problem for that patient. So, there's a whole lot of things. You've got to think about the safety of the responders and the continued safety of the patient inside and more likely there's going to be an EMT or a medic in there with them or another firefighter trying to help them out. So, you've got to have all those things on your mind when you're dealing with it."

Firefighters went through three days of training - two days in the classroom, followed by one day outside working hands-on with possible scenarios.

"We focus a lot in this program on tool handling," Archer said. "We use the Jaws of Life tool. So, we use hydraulic rescue equipment and we've got spreaders, rams, and cutters that are all utilized to remove the occupant from the vehicle. So, we practice a lot of muscle memory in this program. Making sure that the firefighters, again, that it's second nature. Making sure it's second nature for those rescuers to use that equipment. And we've got to make sure the rescuers are able to move the metal and not the patient."

Archer said the skills of a firefighter can determine a patient's outcome.

"If you're good a vehicle extrication," Archer said. "You know the skills. You've got the technique down. You're gonna be able to get that occupant out of the vehicle more quickly and safely. We do a lot of training in the fire service on a lot of different disciplines. So, rescuers have to focus on structural firefighting. All types of technical rescue. Including rope rescue, trench rescue and the list goes on and on. Medical calls they respond to."

"I've had several comments to me from our firefighters," Lang said. "The other guys that are here are saying what a good class it is and how knowledgeable the instructor is. We've been cutting up a lot of cars here today. So, there's a lot of hands-on."

The class also covered everything from late model vehicle construction features to high voltage components with all the new hybrid and electric vehicles we have on the roadway.

Around fifty firefighters attended the training session.

"The skills of the rescuer have such a significant effect on the outcome of the patient," Archer said. "So, we've got to seek training outside our departments and we've also got to do aggressive training within our departments with our Engine companies."

For more information about Advanced Extrication, log onto their website.

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