Fire department goes down the tubes; Confined space rescue – Harrison Daily

Reposted from Harrison Daily
Posted: Thursday, April 2, 2015 6:45 am |
If by chance, while he’s in Harrison on Christmas Eve, Santa Clause ever gets stuck going down a chimney, there will be people who can extract him.
Members of the Harrison Fire Department recently got some training in confined space rescue. Conducted by Nick Robertson and David Thompson, the instruction pertained to getting people out of tight situations, like chimneys, manholes, air ducts and other ultra-snug locations. The schooling took place at the Fire Station 2 training center.
“You can climb down anything,” Thompson said to his fellow firefighters, “but can you climb back up and carrying an unconscious guy?”
Robertson, who has had extensive training in confined space rescue, said that many industries in Harrison hire people to come in and clean chimneys, so knowledge of confined space rescue is vital.
He termed his instruction “lock out, tag out,” in which firefighters go in and ensure that no systems are on that might endanger the victim and the rescuers. Putting safety in place was paramount.
While instructing the firefighters in rigging a system of pulleys and cables and working together as a team, Robertson emphasized that every situation is unique. Working in a non-burning “regular” attic under the instruction of a teacher was different from working in a smoke-filled, cramped space with time of the essence.
Eventually, a spider web of orange and green ropes, connected by a Rube Goldberg-like system of pulleys and clamps, was complete, and the rescue was commenced.
In the scenario, firefighter Mark Sloan was lowered down a large pipe, at the bottom of which “victim” Thanh Ketchum lay unconscious. Sloan’s job was to harness the victim so that the rest of the team could lift him out.
At times, the frustration of the pupils showed as they went about the task of rescuing Ketchum. Robertson was always quick with some encouragement or some suggestions.
“Stay calm,” he said, as the team prepared its lines. “Slow down and calm down.”
At the bottom of the hole, Sloan checked the victim’s vital signs and communicated with the team up top. Thompson, kneeling over the hole, passed along commands, and the team began to pull on the rigged lines.
Slowly, the victim was raised out of the hole. When his head popped out, Thompson, assisted by one or two others, pulled him out and unstrapped the lines from his body.
“Good job!” Robertson said. “That’s the best victim I’ve ever seen!”

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