Firefighters train for school bus rescues
Special training took place in Matlacha over a three-day time span last week for the firefighters of the Matlacha Pine Island Fire Department to familiarize themselves with patient saving techniques to utilize when a school bus is in an accident.
Matlacha Pine Island Fire Depart-ment Engineer Dave Tyrrell said the training was held on Monday, Tuesday and Wed-nesday to make sure all three shifts had the opportunity to participate in the training.
“Hands-on training is the best kind of training,” he said, because the firefighters will be able to revert back to what they learned Tuesday. “This kind of training sticks with you for a long time.”
The training included school bus extrication and immobilization. In addition to the Matlacha Pine Island Fire Department, the Lee County School District, Cape Coral Fire Rescue, Lee County Sheriff, Lee County EMS and Alligator Towing participated in the training.
Tyrrell said it was important to include the Cape Coral Fire Rescue because it does a lot of calls with the island department. He said both departments will respond to a call, which is nice because sometimes you need all the help you can get.
Tuesday morning, the training included a brief history of the school bus before demonstrations were made on how easy it is to remove school bus windows to further assist in saving a patients life if needed.
Battalion Chief John Spicuzza, a training officer with the Cape Coral Fire Department, said with a couple of hand tools, the firefighters have more ways to get their patients out of the bus without damaging the vehicle.
Once a few windows were removed, the training continued with carrying mannequins off the bus on a backboard after a neck brace was placed on the “patient” which was securely strapped down to the backboard.
There were three stations set up during the training to provide the participants with the opportunity to practice extricating a patient out of the emergency exit window, front door and back door. During the training, Spicuzza emphasized how important it is to take the patients out of the bus feet first to provide a sense of calmness for the patient as well as a safety precaution on removing them from the bus.
Tyrrell said there are two emergency exits on top of the bus, two emergency exit windows on both sides of the bus, as well as the front door and rear door of the bus.
“There are so many options no matter what state the bus is in,” he said to rescue the patients within.
Tyrrell said it is all about the easiest, quickest and most effective way of getting a patient off the bus.
Lee County School District school board member Don Armstrong had the opportunity to experience the rescue first hand.
“Very impressive,” he said of the rescue. “They told me exactly what was going on at every moment. I felt comfortable.”
A neck brace was put on Armstrong while he was sitting in the driver’s seat of the bus before he was strapped down to the backboard that was carried out of the school bus by the firefighters through the front door.
Armstrong said the training is very important because it involves life safety.
“I have no problem giving them another bus down the road, the training is priceless,” he said.
Armstrong said the bus that was used in the training last week would have gone to the scrap yard. He said before the bus was provided for the training, the school district took all the parts from it that were usable.
“It’s nothing but a stripped down shell,” Armstrong said of the bus.