Going underground with Phoenix Fire; confined space rescues

RePosted from Fox 10 Phoenix
Posted: Nov 18, 2014 8:00 PM PST
Updated: Nov 18, 2014 9:26 PM PST
By Troy Hayden, FOX 10 NewsCONNECT

FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) – When you think of Phoenix firefighters rushing to save people, you might think of a burning building or a car accident.

But there is a specially trained group of firefighters who are ready to come to the rescue in much more unusual circumstances.

They are called the technical rescue team. FOX 10 got access to follow them on a training mission for one of the most dangerous rescues out there.

On August 25, 2014 two sewer workers were trapped underground overcome by toxic fumes. They were unconscious with no way to get out.

It’s a rescue operation that can only be done by the technical rescue team.

They agreed to put me down a hole with one of their men to see first hand how they tried to get the two victims out of that Scottsdale sewer. It’s a risk-filled operation known as a confined space rescue.

As one team hustled to put a large air hose and blower into the hole, a second built a pyramid shaped platform, attaching pulleys and ropes that are used to lower the rescuers underground.

Another team checks the vital signs of the rescuers before they go in. This is a physically demanding job, and your heart rate and blood pressure have to be at a certain level to get the ok to go in.

“This fall is death fall height, if we fall we are going to die, so you gotta make sure you are in your stuff,” said a firefighter preparing to enter.

Because the spaces can be so small, the air will be delivered by tanks that stay above ground, long hoses connect to air masks that are monitored by yet another team.

A harazous material team sample the air below, a whole second rescue team stands by to get us out if something goes wrong.

It’s time to go in the hole. It is pretty intense down there; you are wearing a lot of gear in a very small space. On a real call, you’d be dealing with hazardous gasses and things, it’s hairy work for these guys.

When we get down, we see our patient which is a dummy, but very much like the unconscious victims often found trapped in spaces like this.

It’s hard enough to get yourself out of a hole like this, but strapping a victim down and working him up the narrow escape route is a real struggle.

These guys are the real professionals and get him out; we come out just after.

While the medical team attended to the victim another team checks our vital signs again, checking us out, stripping off our suits, and giving us water.

A confined space rescue, chances are you will never need one, but if you do it is good to know the Phoenix Fire Department Technical Rescue Team is on the job.

FOX 10 would like to thank Captain Darrell Wiseman, Mike Cook, and the whole Phoenix Fire Department crew that came out for the training.

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