Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

April 13, 2012 at 3:51am

Fire department makes room for confined space training

Jessica Hall/JBLM PAO Firefighter Anthony Taylor gets in place as a trapped victim in a C-17 training wing during a recent confined space training on McChord Field.

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Firefighter Anthony Taylor crawled down into the C-17 wing and maneuvered himself into a cramped space. With his arms and legs in various holes within the wing, he was ready - to be rescued.

The Joint Base Lewis-McChord firefighters were participating in confined space training last week. The weeklong class included three days of instruction and two days of hands-on scenarios.

While most of the firefighters have had confined space rescue training in the past, this was the first time some of them had ever practiced in a plane wing. The wing they practiced on is actually one that Air Force technicians train on in the 373rd Training Squadron, Detachment 12 facility on McChord Air Field.

For the JBLM Fire Department, it was important to train their firefighters on Air Force equipment.

"We want to make sure that the Air Force is comfortable with us going into the wings," Fire Chief Dean Dixon said.

Last week's training was the second done this month for 48 firefighters. The remaining firefighters will be trained later by instructors from the department. For those participating last week, the course was a good reminder of the skills they already have, as well as a learning experience.

"We're learning that we have some large firefighters," Capt. Tom Wayne said. "This gives us an idea of our capability for certain types of rescues."

There are many jobs to fill during a confined space rescue, including those who go into the space, someone to hand out equipment, another to assess any hazards that may be encountered and others to help pull the person completely out of the space from the outside. Depending on the conditions, firefighters may rotate out every 15 to 20 minutes so as not to tire or be exposed to heat or hazardous conditions.

Instructor Wayne Chapman of CMC Rescue was on hand to teach the confined space rescue class last week. His role during the rescue simulation was to ensure the firefighters were applying techniques learned in class and followed the intricate legal protocols involved in entering confined spaces.

"I'm here to get them to the point where they feel comfortable doing the confined space rescue," Chapman said.

Throughout the training he listened to them problem solve and address the rescue in a number of ways. He would only speak up if they were doing something wrong. But of the first group he saw last Thursday, he said things went very well.

"They are a pretty aggressive group," he said. "We were done early but they want to keep training."

After each simulated rescue, the group would evaluate what worked and what didn't. For the people "rescued," they offered tips on what would have made the rescue easier on them, like rolling them on their stomachs for easier manipulation through the tight spaces.

While the comfort of the patient was important, the main concern for the rescue team is always getting the victim out alive.

For firefighter Chris Rhude, the course was all about ropes, knots, safety and how to work in a toxic atmosphere. Working with the group was an important aspect to get the patient out of the space.

"It's a team approach," he said of rescue missions.

Fortunately JBLM firefighters have not had to respond to a confined space rescue, but if they are called, they will be prepared.

"We all need to know the functions of confined space rescue," Wayne said. "A lot of firefighters still want this class and they will get it later this year."

Comments for "Fire department makes room for confined space training" (1)

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Rescue Class said on Jul. 26, 2012 at 3:46pm

went to a Rescue class like this in California and it was very helpful.

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