Arizona Firefighters Learning New Techniques

October 6, 2010

Arizona firefighters are learning new techniques, including how to deal with new hazards imposed by hybrid vehicles.

At the Central Yavapai Fire District’s Regional Training Academy in Prescott Valley, 25 firefighters from across the state practiced advanced extrication techniques. For example, they used trucks from Tri-City Towing to lift a school bus and pull out a car trapped beneath it as part of a multi-vehicle collision scenario. Then they climbed up on the truck’s flatbed to quickly cut open windows and get victims out of the bus more easily.

Training for these situations with current and new tools over and over again helps firefighters know what to do when they encounter the situation, said Capt. Tim Kelahan of the Central Yavapai Fire District.

Capt. Rich Martinez from Northwest Fire in Tucson said he appreciated the training on extreme scenarios like the school bus and cars stacked on top of each other.

“It’s more hands on and you see different ways to approach the situation,” Martinez said.

This is the second year for this advanced extrication training to be held in Prescott Valley. Kelehan said he hopes it will become a cornerstone of what the training facility offers.

Matt Stroud, president of MGS Tech, taught firefighters how to deactivate high intensity lights, the electrical system, and air bags in hybrid vehicles to help them safely get people out of one.

“My job is to get it out to these guys so they have no fears and hesitation when dealing with these situations and they can work with technology to their advantage,” Stroud said.

The hybrid vehicles firefighters worked on were donated by several Prescott-area dealerships.

“They’re not as dangerous as I thought and now I know where the real dangers are like the high intensity headlights with 25,000 volts,” said Bleu Edwards, a reserve firefighter for Central Yavapai Fire District.

After two days of classes and demonstrations, firefighters used new technology and learned different methods to stabilize and extricate multi-vehicle collisions.

Dennis Metzger, regional sales manager of Paratech, demonstrated how struts could be used to help stabilize vehicles involved in a collision.

“This happens in just a few minutes while we are triaging patients and ordering resources,” said Capt. Joe Kelley with Central Yavapai Fire District. “We have already been through that process before you hear it on the radio.”

J.W. Seets, an engineer with Central Yavapai Fire District, said he liked working with the struts to help support vehicles and hoped they’d eventually have them on their trucks.

“You’re only limited by the equipment you have,” Seets said. “We adapt, overcome and do the best we can with what we have. We improvise.”

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