Sanibel fire crews train on victim removal at tower
Members of the Sanibel Fire and Rescue District recently underwent victim removal training that involved search and rescue, and then extraction through a window of a multi-story building.
From June 30 to July 2, all three shifts at the district took part in the exercises at the training tower, located at Station 171. About 20 employees ran through the training for a couple hours each day.
“It was A, B and C shift – one on each day,” Division Chief of Training Tim Barrett said.
Dressed in full gear as if they were responding to a real-life emergency, the fire crews arrived on scene and the first officer conducted a quick assessment of the situation. The team then headed inside of the building to search for the victim and begin life-saving measures, while the second company showed up.
While the second crew worked on extinguishing the fire, the first team had to extract the victim.
“What we did is worked on the ability to get a victim out of a third or fourth floor building,” he said, explaining that they trained on the Stokes basket, which keeps a victim immobilized for transport.
The victim was extracted from a window to the top of the ladder, then lowered to the ground.
“It was really looking at different ways to get victims out of a building,” Barrett said.
“The whole time we’re working on communication. The guys work on their leadership skills and assessments,” he added. “It’s more than just a simple drill. We’re going to incorporate several different aspects.”
Barrett noted that all three shifts did great as usual.
“It’s interesting when everybody’s bouncing ideas off of each other,” he said of when the crews are assessing the situation to come up with a plan. “That way they kind of work these things out.”
Barrett pointed out that the exercises help to improve their ability to think on their feet.
“Sometimes, they come up with a better way,” he said, referring to their textbook protocols.
The district conducts the ladder-victim extraction training a few times a year.
“It’s a rare occasion that we’re not going to be able to get a victim down the steps from the inside, but we like to have lots of options,” Barrett said. “Sometimes fire doesn’t do what you want it to do.”
He added that the crews undergo some type of training every week to keep their skills sharp.
“In the course of the month, we have one solid week of medical training, one solid week of fire training,” Barrett said, noting that there is also special operations training like rope and water rescue.
He explained that emergency responders work in a ‘what if’ business.
“There’s so many different things that can go wrong, so we try to be good at as many things as we,” Barrett said. “We have to always assume that when we show up to work today that there’s going to be a guy hanging from a powerline or a family trapped on the water.”
“Those are things that we really try to focus on because we have to be ready when it happen,” he added.