Sunday, August 29, 2010

Middletown Fire Department Fire Ops 101

Middletown Firefighters Local 1073 and the Middletown Fire Department will be hosting Fire Ops 101 in mid September. Fire Ops 101 is an educational tool developed to allow the training and actual hands on for scenarios firefighters face each day. We will be educating our political leaders and taxpayers of Middletown on what services are provided by the department daily. Most taxpayers do not know what kind of services we provide to our city. We will share first hand knowledge and demonstrations to any of our consumers who want to witness how these services operate. This is a series of articles which will detail the services and skills our department provides. The first team we will discuss is Technical Rescue.

Technical rescue refers to those aspects of life saving or property conservation that employ the use of specialized tools , skills, and training that exceed those normally reserved for firefighting, emergency medical calls and rescue. These disciplines include rope rescue, swift water rescue, confined space rescue, ski rescue, cave rescue, trench/ excavation rescue, and building collapse rescue among others. In Middletown, technical rescues will often have multiple jurisdictions such as police, water and sewer departments, and private entities operating together to effect the rescue, and will use the Incident Command System (ICS) to manage the incident and resources on scene. The rescue personnel must be trained to the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) level, and maintain the skills necessary to perform the rescue. The fire department will be the lead agency in all of these scenarios.

Middletown Fire Department began Technical Rescue almost 18 years ago. Confined Space Rescue was our first discipline and we created a team to meet the City's need. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) along with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) set standards which all rescue agencies and employers with confined spaces must adhere to. OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.146 sets the bar for any employer who has a confined space, and the requirements for any rescue team. Both private and public sector employers in the City have hundreds if not thousands of confined spaces. Entries into these spaces are made daily in Middletown by a wide number of employers in many work places.

The department has 38 confined space technicians, and all of our firefighters are certified to the operational level in this discipline. All of our firefighters are also Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT's). Each shift has technical rescue team members embedded on them, so no matter what time of day, on duty personnel on all 4 shifts can handle any technical rescue which we are called upon to execute. There is no need for waiting for off duty personnel or mutual aid, and each shift will begin the operations immediately. We are the City's dedicated confined space agency, and provide all rescues and stand by's associated with it. Confined Space involves the rescue of down or trapped people in enclosed work spaces. This is a very physically challenging discipline and requires at the minimum 14 firefighters. The following personnel are required to perform these rescues: Incident Commander, Safety Officer, Operations/Entry officer, two rescuers, two back up rescuers, air cart attendant, communications officer, five firefighters for rope management including safety lines for all entrants.

High and Low angle rope rescue was added as an additional tool to assist our department with our skills. When most people think of rope rescue, they envision firefighters rappelling off of high buildings and mountains. This discipline is much more involved than that, and includes low angle rescue skills as well. The team has been involved in many rescues, including calls at Black Pond, Mount Higby, Middlesex Hospital parking garage, the zip line confidence course, and the ravine at South Main and Warwick streets. This requires as a minimum 8 firefighters ranging from Incident Commanders, Safety Officers, rescuers, and personnel to provide the lifting or lowering by use of ropes.

Vehicle extrication calls along with heavy machinery is another discipline we are well versed with. This type of emergency is the most common technical rescue skill used by firefighters each and every day. The department is called on to perform vehicle extrication's monthly. It is a skill which requires technical knowledge of both vehicles and heavy machinery. As a minimum this skill requires at least 3 firefighters, depending on the size and nature of the incident.

Swift water rescue in Middletown is something the department needs during the spring freshets. Many small rivers and streams become swollen during periods of heavy rain and following winter snow melts. There have been incidents in which the department has been called upon to perform this rescue. It is not a common occurrence, but can be very devastating to the community as a whole when it occurs.

Trench rescue is the newest discipline the department has adopted. Beginning at the end of September, the training will be delivered to all of our personnel. This is a very technical discipline and requires specialized equipment. The training is very intense and technical as it involves the rescue of workers who may be trapped in trench's below the surface. The ability to build support systems around the victim, while maintaining life saving EMS work test each entrant and victim. The skills needed must be developed and trained upon. By the end of October our department will have this service available to our community.

The entire team can be activated by the Battalion Chief's whenever the need arises. It is a discipline which we have fine tuned to an excellent service thanks to the citizen's of Middletown and our City's administration. Middletown Rescue 1 along with our personnel are fully capable of any technical rescue we are called upon to execute.

If you have any questions regarding this team, please feel free to contact the department. We can be reached at (860) 343-8004 any time of day. You can contact Chief Gary Ouellette, or one of the two team leaders, Assistant Chief Jay Woron, or Battalion Chief John Ricci. They will be glad to answers any questions, and provide you with details or tours of the stations and equipment.


Elizabeth Bobrick said...

I really enjoyed this post. Thanks for getting this information to Eye readers like myself.

I hope that other departments will share this kind of information here. Apart from the fact that this was really interesting, I appreciate the opportunity to be more informed. Few people have time to go to every dept. meeting. I'd like to know more so that I can show support and/or engage in public discussion.

Thanks, BCFire.

BCFire said...

Thank you Elizabeth. It is the begining of the series which we will highlight our specialty teams, and then the operations of the entire department. We saw the need to educate people we serve after finding out most do not know what we do. It is our pleasure to make sure this information gets out to the public we serve.