Growing up you may remember seeing on TV or hearing people joke about the beloved dog Lassie going for help after Timmy fell in a well. Being trapped in a confined space is actually a potential danger for many workers today, and first responders must be prepared when they encounter these confined-space incidents.
Members of the Fort Jackson Fire Department conducted confined space rescue training, July 16, as part of an annual requirement. Participants descended into a tunnel used specifically for training to rescue a notional patient.
Matt Cagle, FJFD Assistant Chief, was on site monitoring the process.
“If you’re confined space rescue certified you have to make entry at least once annually to keep your certification,” he said.
According to the National Fire Protection Association a confined space is large enough to enter and perform work, has limited or restricted means for entering or exiting, and is not designed for continuous employee occupancy. Examples include crawl spaces, manholes, tanks, and elevator shafts – spaces where people perform repairs, inspections, and maintenance, but are not designed for an employee to work in all day.
The NFPA also said that although confined space emergencies are rare, high-risk incidents, they can lead to firefighter injuries or deaths. Hazards in these spaces can include limited ventilation, exposed wiring, drowning, or falling into the space.
Rebecca Woollard, who has been in firefighting for 20 years and with FJFD since 2017, is very familiar with this training. “It’s very exhilarating being able to put the confined space equipment together but also to be able to go in and get patients,” Woollard said.
Lt. Justin Mullins, rescue officer with FJFD, who gave instructions throughout the process and discussed the training with everyone, was happy with the end result. “It went very well today given the conditions and the crew that we had, and I appreciate all the hard work that they did,” he said.