Thursday, July 28, 2011

Training for Rescues Below Ground

When the word rescue comes to mind, most people think of over a cliff, in the water or trapped in a smashed car. For some firefighters, it also means rescuing people below ground. Hillsboro Fire and Rescue conducted a Trench Rescue Technician course this week for our younger firefighters and for any firefighters in the region who wanted to attain that additional certification.
Held this week at our Cherry Lane Fire Station No. 6 and Training Center, the class focused on the newest Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) rules for firefighters building shoring in preparation for a below ground rescue. Most often, these incidents occur when constructions crews either forget or take shortcuts to installing proper collapse prevention equipment when digging below ground for buildings or utility lines. When the ground collapses on top of a person, crush trauma may occur and firefighters are in a race against time for several reasons:

1. If the patient’s head is buried, the lack of oxygen may kill the person within minutes.
2. The crushing pressure on large portions of the body decreases oxygen to the blood and triggers cells to release large quantities of toxins into the blood stream which can cause renal failure, liver damage, breathing problems and cardiac arrest.

Firefighters must balance the need to speedily rescue the patient while maintaining their own safety in an environment which has already proven unstable. The skills they learned this week help them to quickly building shoring, deploy rescue shoring bracing and use the latest equipment and techniques to safely rescue a trapped worker.