Fort McCoy News June 13, 2014

Fort McCoy firefighters train in technical rescue

STORY & PHOTOS BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Sixty-five feet above the cantonment area, atop one of the post's rappelling towers, Fort McCoy firefighters practiced lowering a simulated patient down the tower's steep wall to safety to firefighters on the ground.

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Fort McCoy firefighters participate in high-angle technical-rescue training at a 65-foot-tall rappelling tower in the installation cantonment area. Team members (above) begin to lower a simulated patient while team members on the ground (below) prepare to receive the patient.

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The scenario practiced by the firefighters is all a part of technical-rescue training, according to Fort McCoy Station Chief Brady Brever.

"We've started training in technical rescue to increase our capabilities," Brever said. "Though we have completed some low-angle technical-rescue training in the past, this is the first time we are also including high-angle style training of technical rescue."

Technical rescue is defined as those aspects of saving life or property that employ the use of tools and skills that exceed those normally reserved for firefighting, medical emergency and rescue, according to the Alabama Fire College (AFC) of Tuscaloosa, Ala., the agency that conducted the training.

These disciplines include rope rescue, confined space rescue, trench and excavation rescue, and more.

AFC Instructor Stacey Rose and another instructor trained firefighters over eight class days in Rope Levels I and II.

Rope Level I training teaches students to construct a multi-point anchor system and determine incident needs as related to choosing anchor systems, effective knots and expected loads.

Firefighters learn to construct a compound-rope, mechanical-advantage system and to operate that system in a high-angle environment. They also learn to ascend and descend a rope in a high-angle environment, and how to construct a fixed-rope system for rappelling.

"We worked through a number of scenarios over the course of the training," Brever said. "These courses are the initial phase of the technical-rescue training, but once we are all done we will have the certifications needed to offer this additional lifesaving set of skills to the Fort McCoy community."

Rose said AFC has done this training for many Department of Defense (DOD) fire departments for "quite some time."

"They wanted to expand their lifesaving capability here," Rose said. "With the type of terrain here (at Fort McCoy), this is good training for them to have."

Once the full round technical-rescue training is done, the Fort McCoy Fire Department will receive certification from the Pro Board Fire Service Professional Qualifications System and the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress. Those certifications also will translate to DOD certifications, Rose said.

"Having these skills available with our fire services personnel are great for when you need it," Brever said. "We will support the Fort McCoy community first. We could also support surrounding communities through mutual-aid agreements."

Other technical rescue courses will be completed in the future, Brever said.

For more information about the Fort McCoy Fire Department, call 608-388-2508.