By Joseph Heim, Deputy Fire Chief, Rock Island Arsenal Fire & Emergency ServicesJune 22, 2017
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Rock Island, Illinois -- (June 22, 2017) On June 20 through 22, the Rock Island Arsenal Fire Department hosted training on Arsenal Island for Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) Division 43, that includes firefighters from Rock Island Arsenal, Bettendorf, East Moline, Moline, and Rock Island Fire departments. The firefighters participated in Rapid Intervention Team training and firefighter self-rescue at the regional training site located on the Rock Island Arsenal.
The firefighters went through four different skills evolutions that tested their abilities to rescue a firefighter in distress, as well as to rescue themselves.
The first evolution incorporated searching for a firefighter in distress, assessing the firefighter, and removing the firefighter from the building by using different drags and carries, all while encountering smoke and heat.
The second evolution required the participants to find a firefighter that was involved in a collapsed structure. They had to find the firefighter, carefully remove debris from on top of the firefighter -- checking the firefighter for any face mask issues, fixing the issues if possible, and then forced their way out of a simulated wall, removing the firefighter who is unconscious and starting CPR on the firefighter.
The third evolution involved a situation where they had to follow a hose line through a maze varying in angles and sizes. Some firefighters had to remove their air packs from their backs, maintaining control of this equipment as they maneuvered through the maze, which also included a wall to simulate going through a stud wall in a house. Theater smoke filled the prop to create zero visibility.
The last evolution was one involving multiple hose lines through a structure that the firefighters had to find their way out while following the correct hose. This simulated a structure fire that had multiple hose lines being used. The firefighters needed to evacuate; the easiest way involved following their hose line out of the structure. This also involved theater smoke causing zero visibility; this becomes difficult when there are multiple lines and the lines become entangled and going in different directions.
All of these scenarios are very realistic. The firefighters went from one evolution to the next with short water breaks between to keep them hydrated. All firefighters were monitored by all of the instructors to ensure safety and that they are all able to return to their stations and continue their shifts.
This training enforced to the firefighters that they must always be ready for a mayday or a firefighter needing help. The week of June 18-24 was Firefighter Safety Stand Down, which had the theme of Mayday, Self Rescue, and Rapid Intervention. All of these agencies train together on a monthly basis with different topics each month. This is huge as the agencies all work together at emergencies all the time.
July's training will be grain bin rescue and is being taught by the Illinois Fire Service Institute.