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Cape Coral firefighters undergo rescue training

By Staff | Sep 9, 2010

Rescuing passengers from a vehicle after a traffic accident is one thing, rescuing people from a school bus or public transportation is another.
For the past few weeks, members of the Cape Coral Fire Department have been participating in bus extrication training at Fire Station 8, at 707 S.W. First St. Firefighters receive hands-on training with the equipment, including the Jaws of Life, and learn which works best in different rescue scenarios.
“It’s an opportunity to get their hands on the tools,” Battalion Chief John Spicuzza, of the Cape Coral Fire Department, said. “To use all of the tools that are available to them.”
He added that vehicle extrication is different than bus extrication.
“This happens to be a different animal when you start cutting into buses,” Spicuzza said.
Training in sessions, the firefighters have been tearing apart a Lee County school bus and a LeeTran bus located outside of the fire station. They have dismantled seats inside the buses to determine the quickest and safest way to free trapped passengers, and they have used power saws and glass cutters to create new exits for passengers, as if the doors and windows were blocked.
“Some of the tools have limitations,” Spicuzza said.
School buses and public buses are constructed differently, so firefighters have to learn where to cut on each bus to gain entry. They have to question what other options they have available, he said. By knowing what equipment is necessary in each situation, they also recognize when to call for backup.
“Every truck has a different set of tools,” Spicuzza said.
Firefighter Eric Chappelle said the goal is trying to see what tools work the best depending on the situation. He said firefighters also learned to be aware of potential hazards, like leaking gasoline, and they had to take into account the differences in how each bus was constructed when cutting into them.
“There’s just different variables with the different buses,” Chappelle said.
He added that the training was helpful because vehicle extrications differ from bus extrications in many ways, including the total potential victims.
“There’s so many more variables,” Chappelle said.
Firefighter Brandon Lynch said firefighters got to use the tools and perfect their skills, which can translate into a quicker response to potential victims.
“Sometimes the way you think would be the fastest isn’t,” he said.
“It’s great that they were able to bring this stuff out here,” Lynch added.
This is the first time the Cape Coral Fire Department has hosted the bus extrication training, according to Spicuzza. Personnel have gone to classes and training outside of the department, but this is the first time the buses have been available to the Cape agency.
“It’s very difficult to get these buses to train on,” he said.
Because of the difficulty of acquiring buses, the department has made the most out of its time with the two it has. Spicuzza explained that prior to the extrication training, the buses were used in a lecture and walk-thru session.
“We try to get the most use out of them as we can,” he said.
Outside agencies are even seizing the chance to work with the vehicles.
“An opportunity like this doesn’t come along very often,” Charlotte County Fire and EMS Deputy Chief Marianne Taylor said Wednesday at Fire Station 8.
Taylor was present for the bus extrication training. She said she was gathering information to bring back to Charlotte County to put something together for the firefighters there. Taylor also took part in the lecture and walk-thru session that took place prior to the hands-on extrication training.
“To better understand how to remove victims,” she said. “To keep them and firefighters safe.”