Pine Island firefighters train volunteers and inspire young Explorers
Firefighters from the Matlacha-Pine Island Fire Control District recently spent several weeks sharing their expertise with volunteers and Fire Explorers.
In a continuing effort to enhance the abilities of the volunteers and Explorers, the firefighters have spent time over the last several months teaching the techniques required for safe vehicle extraction. According to Deputy Chief Joe Marzella, this type of hands-on training is the best way to teach the skills needed to extract a victim from a vehicle after a serious accident.
“This kind of training is unparalleled to match the conditions the firefighters encounter at the scene of vehicle accidents on Pine Island. All three shifts have performed many different scenarios that occur, including removal of the roof of the vehicle using the different proficiencies they have perfected, dashboard lifts with hydraulic rams and door removal capabilities using the jaws of life,” Marzella said.
“Extreme caution must be sustained at all times during the extrication process,” he continued. “With the advent of the new air bag systems to protect passengers of the vehicles, firefighters must maintain proper safety procedures in the event the air bag systems did not deploy on impact. At that point, the air bags may explode at anytime, putting the passengers and firefighters at risk of being hit by the air bag.”
The vehicles used for the training were provided by St. James Automotive, Carl’s Automotive Service, Affordable Towing and Long’s Paint and Body Shop, as well as from other donations.
In addition to the vehicle extrication training, all three firefighter shifts have begun training the volunteers and Fire Explorers in Emergency Vehicle Operations (EVOC). This training consists of several classroom sessions along with competency driving courses. While participating in the EVOC course, participants must be able to maneuver the emergency vehicle through six different scenarios.
“This type of training with the volunteers is to enhance the ability of the district firefighters and to maintain local volunteers to respond when needed,” said Marzella.
Fire Explorers is a nationally recognized program offered to young men and women ages 14 through 18. The Explorers learn first-hand about what is involved in the work of firefighters. In addition to classroom instruction, the Explorers will work side by side with professional firefighters and paramedics, assisting them during emergencies and performing routine, supervised duties.
The program is designed to provide training and insight into the daily tasks of firefighters and paramedics while also teaching good communication skills, team work, fitness, leadership and other valuable life skills.
Those interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter or a Fire Explorer may call Deputy Marzella at 283-0030 to request an application. Volunteer applicants must live in the fire district and Explorers under that age of 18 must obtain parental consent to participate in the program.