Fire department uses clever training to help firefighters with communication, coordination
TONICA — While emergencies occur at all times and in all weather, no firefighter would want to train outside in winter weather.
However, the Tonica Volunteer Fire Department recently conducted some clever indoor training exercises designed to develop a fine touch when using their incredibly powerful rescue tools.
The first exercise involved the use of high-pressure rescue air bags. A bag was placed under each of the four corners of a piece of plywood. Built on top of that plywood was a maze.
While each rescue bag is capable of lifting 10 tons, the goal for the firefighters was to successfully move a ball through the maze. This was accomplished by incrementally inflating and deflating the individual bags to move the ball accordingly.
“This event was not about how much weight that could be lifted, but more about coordination, communication, command and control,” Rick Turri, training officer for the Tonica Volunteer Fire Department, said.
The second exercise involved the use of the department’s hydraulic spreaders and cutters. While this equipment can easily cut through or move an automobile, this exercise was about finesse.
Tonica firefighters were required to pick up and move an egg and food cans from one place to another without damaging either.
“Even though big spreaders can exert more than 17,000 pounds of force at the tips and the cutters more than 100,000 pounds of cutting force, there are times when intricate movements are required during a rescue,” Turri said.
A third exercise involved the safe containment of fluids that firefighters may encounter as a result of auto accidents. Turri said this is a standard exercise where the fluids are contained by creating a dike with absorbent materials such as Oil-Dri, cat litter or absorbent pads. Depending on the liquid spilled, foam or emulsifiers may also be used.
The Tonica Volunteer Fire Department is one of the few fire departments funding the emergency services provided to their community through donations rather than property taxation.