By Maddy Vitale
Firefighters must be trained for any type of emergency.
And when it comes to training, they have to be up on all the techniques and skills, to be able to save lives in any situation.
Crews from the Ocean City Fire Department and the Wildwood Fire Department, both part of the Cape May County Regional Urban Search and Rescue Team (RUST), participated in a confined space drill Thursday.
Firefighters had to act quickly and skillfully, to lower one of their own, into a confined space and simulate a rescue scenario.
They met at the Ocean City Fire Department on 45th Street and West Avenue Thursday, practiced use of the tripod, with all the ropes and riggings, and headed to the Cape May County Municipal Utilities Authority at 45th Street and Simpson Avenue, to perform the drill.
The drill included packaging the simulated victim, and safely remove them from the confined space to haul them up, slowly and carefully.
Wildwood Firefighter Matt Long was lowered into the underground confined space for the simulated rescue scenario, Captain Chris Vliet explained.
“This is one of the things we don’t use that often. We try to train on major events quarterly,” Vliet said.
Ocean City Firefighter Daniel Coan explained how firefighters utilize a tripod to rescue people trapped in any confined space including manholes.
“It could be any type of confined space where there is only one way to get out,” Coan said.
Coan added that firefighters trained on this equipment last year. He didn’t recall the last time it was used for a real rescue.
But when it comes to firefighting, anything could happen, so preparation is vital, he said.
“It could be today. It could be tomorrow,” Coan said. “That is why we need to be fresh on it all of the time.”
Firefighters listened as Vliet instructed them on how to use the tripod and the riggings, before they set out for the scenario.
Wildwood Firefighter Rich Harron said he appreciated the training Thursday, because it prepares firefighters for reality.
“We need to be trained for whatever we potentially come across,” Harron said. “Every municipality has public workers, manholes and pumping stations. This equipment could be key to saving lives.”
Ocean City Fire Captain Ray Clark commented after the successful drill Thursday.
He said, while firefighters train daily to hone their current skills and develop new techniques for emergency situations, Thursday’s training with the focus on confined space, was highly technical and specialized.
“Due to the nature of technical rescue incidents, other agencies may need to be involved,” Clark said. “Interoperability is a key component to having a successful operation.”
Clark added that firefighters train throughout the year on all levels of firefighting and rescue operations.
Earlier in the week, the Ocean City Fire Department completed a multi-agency water rescue drill with Longport Fire Company, the United States Coast Guard and the New Jersey State Police.