RED OAK — Preparation and training are the first steps emergency responders take before heading out to any call. Red Oak Firefighters recently spent time getting hands on experience on how to rescue a person that has become trapped in a trench or a pit.

“This week we are doing trench rescue training. We house the rescue unit for EDUCT that has the high angle rescue, the trench rescue, structural collapse and confined space rescue equipment,” Red Oak Fire Department Capt. David Petricca said. “Annually we have to go through a refresher course for each one of those disciplines to just recertify ourselves. So we know what we are doing and we are up to snuff on all of the new technologies and tools that are available for us.”

Petricca said while the department answers more medical and structure fire calls this type of training is important because of on going construction done year round in the community or work that is being performed on utilities lines.

The tools that firefighters use to stabilize a trench during a rescue are called shores. Shores are a cylinder shape and have two flat metal feet attached to each side. The shores firefighters were training on this week were called speed shores. A hose attached to a hand pump is connected to the shore. The pump moves a liquid made up of water and lubricant into the shore causing expand.

A board is placed on each side of the trench-creating place for the feet to grip onto and stabilizing the collapse in the process.

Petricca said speed shores are deployed first by firefighters. Air powered shores are then deployed to add great stability and provide increased safety at the scene. Once all of the shores are in place firefighters can then being the rescue the person from the collapsed space.

A firefighter can be lowed down into the collapsed area in a harness on an air line instead of caring the normal air pack used for a structure fire to attend to the victim. If the air line were to become snagged the firefighter can disconnect and connect a five minute air bottle he caring to be pulled up to safety.  

During this weeks training firefighters on each shift practiced setting up shores at the departments training center. Firefighters worked together to make sure each shore was in place before pressurizing each cylinder. The training center features a t shaped concrete trench, which allows training to take place in a controlled environment.  

Petricca said before going out to the training facility firefighters spent some time in the classroom reviewing procedures and checklists of what to look for and who to talk to at a scene. After getting a walkthrough of how to set up and deploy a shore firefighters had their knowledge tested through different realistic scenarios.

The rescue shores the firefighters trained on this week is stored inside the department’s rescue truck has other specialized tools and equipment on board.

The truck was purchased through grant funds that were made available by the Department of Homeland Security and came into service in 2005. This vehicle not only serves Red Oak but cities in and outside of Ellis County.

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