Firefighters with the Directorate of Emergency Services (DES) Fire Department practiced rappelling down a tower May 10, 2018, at the Air Assault Course at Fort McCoy, Wis., during Ropes Rescue I training.

The course is the first of many for the firefighters in technical rescue training, said Assistant Fire Chief Jeremy Olivier.

"This is a very important foundation course because everything learned in Rope Rescue is applied in other technical rescue courses," Olivier said. "It involves using ropes and rappelling in high- and low-angle environments."

According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), the training includes understanding, directing, and operating simple rope-lowering systems.

It also includes safely ascending and descending a fixed-rope system in a high-angle environment and understanding and operating a rope-rescue system intended to move a load horizontally in a safe and controlled manner.

"These are skills we're teaching all of our personnel," Olivier said.

The DES Fire Department stepped up the department's training in technical rescue in 2014.

Technical rescue is defined as those aspects of saving life or property that employ the use of tools and skills that exceed those normally used in firefighting, medical emergency, and rescue, according to the NFPA. These disciplines include rope rescue, confined space rescue, trench and excavation rescue, and more. 

"Those who finished Rope Rescue I training then go into Rope Rescue II training," Olivier said. "Each piece of training builds on all previous training and continues to build more skills."

Instructors with the Regional Emergency All-Climate Training (REACT) Center at Volk Field, Wis., taught the course.

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