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Firemen train for confined-space rescues

August 17, 2011

By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
sdnedu@bellsouth.net

The Bulldogs weren’t the only ones heading back to school this week — Starkville firefighters received some education, too.
A group of firefighters from the Starkville Fire Department is completing confined space rescue course this week at Station No. 3 on North Jackson Street. The five-day course, taught by members of the Mississippi State Fire Academy, is meant to teach rescue procedures for a victim trapped in a small, confined space, such as a sewer line or mine shaft.
These situations, though uncommon, can be very dangerous for both the victim and the rescue team because they are often accompanied by other factors like little to no light and low oxygen.
“We’ve never had to do one of these rescues before, but we need to know how even though we may never need to use it,” Training Officer Charles Yarbrough said. “It’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.”
Throughout the week, the course taught a number of techniques that could be used in a variety of situations.
On Tuesday, firefighters practiced repelling down a 50-foot wall, which was a new experience for many of the men who had never had to do a rescue from anything higher than a standard two-story house. Once they got comfortable with the safety equipment and practices, they inverted and went upside down. Yarbrough explained that if they were required to do a vertical enclosed space rescue, they may need to be lowered in head-first to assist the victim.
In one exercise, they were lowered upside down through a pipe and were asked to tie a simple knot while hanging suspended — which was easier said than done, according to several of the firefighters.
The firefighters practiced rescuing victims from both vertical and horizontal confined spaces Wednesday.
The team must be trained to deal with a variety of dangerous situations, many which don’t involve fire at all. It is important that firefighters keep up with training throughout the year.
“We try to do one or two courses a year just to keep our skills up,” Yarbrough said. “If you don’t use your skills, you lose them, so it’s important that we do continuing education.”

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