Albion, Brookside departments host live-action teaching expo
ALBION – When it comes to emergency rescue, firefighters prepare for the worst. During motor-vehicle accidents, they prepare for the toughest extrication or the most dangerous scenario. When the bell rings for a fire call, they prepare their trucks and equipment for a major disaster.
But when it comes time for rare rescues – such as a child’s foot caught in a bicycle or a chef’s hand stuck in a meat grinder – it takes a certain amount of intangible experience to make quick work of the emergency. And training.
On Saturday, Aug. 2, 19 fire departments from across Pennsylvania gathered at the Albion Volunteer Fire Department fire hall for several classes regarding man vs. machinery, vehicle extrication and rebar rescue.
“It’s basically the things we rarely ever see, but we still need to be prepared for it,” said Scott Hyde, chief of the Albion department.
Sponsored by Albion and Brookside fire departments, the class – which ran from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday, allowed local firefighters to learn techniques from experienced professionals. The classes featured officials from P.L. Vulcan Fire Training Concepts, which is comprises of firefighters from the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), the Boston Fire Department and the New York City Police Department (NYPD). Attending the classes were volunteer and paid firefighters from across the states. Sending representatives to the classes were departments and companies from Albion, Cranesville, Edinboro, Brookside, Monroeville, Mt. Lebanon, Cranberry Township, West Ridge, Lakeshore and Kearsarge.
“In the man vs. machine class, some of the things were saw were meat grinders, snow blowers, lawn mowers, icicles and air conditioning units. We also learned how to cut rings off of fingers,” Hyde explained. “These are things we see, but we don’t see all the time.”
Hyde said that it’s not uncommon for fire departments to face vehicle extrication during severe automobile accidents. However, during the advanced vehicle extrication class on Saturday, instructors discussed how to adapt and proceed with the most rigorous accident scenes.
“We learned how to do things with some tools that we don’t normally do,” he said. “It was also about safe operation.”
With industrial businesses located in western Erie County, the local firefighters also learned how to successfully respond to major industrial accidents – such as an individual stuck in a reinforcing bar or a wooden structure. They also learned how to use their everyday tools to adapt to rare situations.
“We used tools that we carry everyday on our trucks,” Hyde said. “But now we see a different avenue to use these tools.”
A total of 40 firefighters attended this training; however, Hyde said that he would have liked to see more local firefighters take advantage of this advanced class.
“We received flying reviews about this class,” he said. “We had fun with the class, and it was really nice training.”