How do you transport a person who is trapped underground in a safe and controlled manner? That was the scenario Red Oak firefighters faced while training Wednesday morning.

“I have been working with Red Oak doing quarterly drills for the last nine months to a year as a part of their technical rescue team,” said Andy Lancaster, Texas Rescue owner and instructor. “Part of their response is to do confined space rescue, rope rescue, collapsed structure rescue and any type of technical rescue. So they all receive training at different places. What we are doing is bringing them all together so that everyone is on one page and unified in their training.

“This is a basically a confined space rescue,” he said of the scenario. “Let’s say that you had a water facility or industrial facility where guys are making entries into tanks or vessels and they get in there and get hurt and have to be extricated. This training will show rescue personnel the process to go through to monitor the air, find the patient, package the patient and then extricate them.”

Firefighters trained at the Waxahachie Fire Training Facility, with the simulation that of a person who was injured after falling into an open manhole.

One of the first steps taken in this type of rescue is to look over the site before proceeding to see if there are any visible dangers to be aware of. Next, firefighters begin monitoring the air in the hole to see if any other gases besides breathable air are present. This step determines if a firefighter going into the hole has to wear a supplied air system or even a chemical suit.

Lancaster said rescue personnel are then lowered into the hole and make contact with the patient.

“The medic would treat them, perform triage on them and put them in some type of patient packaging device to where they are not injured any more and then bring them back out of the hole,” he said. “How long it takes to perform a rescue really varies because of the types of conditions that are present and where the person is at. On average they should be able to make an entry and extrication in 30 minutes or so.

“Some of the difficult parts of this type of a rescue can be access to the person and anchor points for the ropes,” he said. “A lot of the places where they go are anchor-poor – and that can make it difficult in hooking up a rope system to get a person out.”

Lancaster said to perform this type of rescue there needs to be a minimum of five to six people to operate the system.

Contact Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews. com or 469-517-1458.