YPG Fire Department undergoes training to expand emergency services
YPG FD team trained to become certified rope rescue and confined space rescue technicians. Timothy Johnson, Assistant Chief of Training at YPG says, "This training is focusing on rescues in that terrain in an area that is inaccessible; above grade or... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

As mentioned in its title, the Yuma Proving Ground Fire and Emergency Services Department (YPG FD) provides a variety of services beyond fire emergencies.

"We provide fire response, and emergency medical services up the paramedic level. We also do air rescue firefighting response, where we provide coverage for the airfield, which is a specialty within firefighting", explains Timothy Johnson, Assistant Chief of Training at YPG.

Now the YPG FD can add ropes and confined spaces rescue capabilities to that list. In late September and early October, 21 members of the YPG FD team trained to become certified rope rescue and confined space rescue technicians. They underwent a rigorous, 80 hour rope rescue technician course and 40 hour confined space rescue technician course.

The rope rescue entailed basics of tying a knot and how to create raising and lowering systems for patients and equipment. Teams demonstrated how to create a safety system so rescuers and the patients all come out safely from a situation.

This rescue skill is particularly useful around YPG, "The lookout tower for the airfield, if somebody had a heart attack up there or was unconscious and rescuers could not walk the person down the stairs, these guys could come in package the patient in a stokes basket or some type of device and lower them down from above safely", explains Senior Instructor Regional Emergency All Climate Training (REACT) Center, Matt Trepczyk, who traveled in from the headquarters in Wisconsin. The YPG FD will purchase equipment to add to their tool kits in addition to the rope for this specialized rescue.

"Our plan is to be fully operational within the calendar year" explains Johnson.

The installation also has areas of confined space starting with the elevators, "There are multiple, what they call, permit required confined space areas on the installation. Mostly they are inside manholes, but we also have large storage tanks with limited access. We have storm drains, a multitude of telephone and telecommunication vaults. Things along those lines that people go into on a regular basis." Adding, "There are different requirements that need to be accomplished in order to perform a rescue inside a confined space."

During the training personnel went to electrical vaults, an empty water storage tank and a drafting pit used to test fire pumps which was drained. Trepczyk also brought different size culverts that extend 24 feet long which the guys had to crawl through while wearing their gear.

Johnson explains the added benefit of performing the training on base versus sending personnel off post, "By using our home turf we are able to go out and access the hazards as they are sitting, and it helps us to develop an incident plan for some of those specific target areas. In the event that something does happen, as the responders we will already have a loose plan in place as to how we are going to tackle that."

This training came as a result of a risk assessment where it identified Technical Rescue as one of the most needed capabilities for the YPG FD to better serve the YPG community as well as those surrounding.

"We have very limited resources to be able to provide that service, so the Fire Chief has committed to purchasing the equipment, and now acquiring the training along with that equipment, we can provide that service to the community."

YPG first responders provides services for incidents at Hidden Shores, Senator's Wash and Martinez Lake,

"Those populations are continuing to increase and people are becoming more and more adventurous in out-backing and off-roading. So this training is focusing on rescues in that terrain in an area that is inaccessible; above grade or downgrade. We can use these skills to bring the patient to the ambulance and provide additional care."

They also respond to accidents on Highway 95, "We respond on average monthly to a vehicle accident on the highway, we are very well practiced at doing vehicle extrication, which is another specialty" says Johnson.

Johnson says this training will reinforce existing skills and add new capabilities to make them a well-rounded rescue team.