Firefighters trained on new rescue equipment


Investing in better equipment requires first-hand training and hands-on experiences to encounter multiple scenarios for Grass Lake and Napoleon Fire Departments. “It’s all about getting firefighters to understand their equipment and how the equipment can be used to accomplish multiple tasks.” Don Drent, senior instructor, START Rescue. Pictured above is Start Rescue instructor Aaron Osburn.

Story and photos
By John Hummer

With the passing of a fire equipment millage two years ago, Napoleon Township Fire Department is now better equipped to perform rescues in many different scenarios. But that equipment is only as good as the people that know how to use it, and that was the reason for a training workshop at the township fire station last week.

START Rescue Senior Instructor Don Drent explains how to make a chain saddle used to stabilize a car that has flipped over.

“We are learning how to use the new tools that we were lucky enough to purchase with the millages that the community granted us,” stated Napoleon Township Fire Chief Greg Bickford. “It allows us to extricate people faster from cars, it allows us to work safer and stabilize vehicles – things of that nature – dealing with semi rollovers, underrides of semis into the vehicles.”

Bickford said his department’s new tools are now the same as those that the county is using, so there will be consistency when help arrives from county rescue services. “Our firefighters will now be able to assist the tech rescue team if they need it,” he noted.

Aaron Osburn, START Rescue instructor, talks to Napoleon and Grass Lake firefighters about the use of various types and grades of chains to help with stabilizing vehicles that have been in accidents.

START Rescue was invited to put on a training to give firefighters from both Napoleon and Grass Lake fire departments first-hand knowledge and hands-on practice using the new equipment.

“This is an excellent company, extremely knowledgeable, and are just great people to work with,” said Bickford. He also stressed that the training was important for a few new firefighters the department has hired in recent months. “We’re sending three firefighters to the fire academy. I’m really excited.”

How to stabilize and lift a flipped-over car like this one was the purpose of a recent training put on by START Rescue and hosted by the Napoleon Township Fire Department.

 Aaron Osburn, an instructor with START Rescue who also happens to be a lieutenant with the Summit Township Fire Department, was on hand to teach the firefighters principles of vehicle stabilization, lifting, and extrication. The hands-on portion of the training utilized two old cars – one on its side and one upside down – as well as an old U-Haul delivery truck. Osburn stated that part of the course was to understand geometry and vector forces at play while stabilizing vehicles.

Napoleon Township Fire Department Captain Steve Walker uses a Paratech Strut to practice stabilizing a turned-over car.

“They are stabilizing a vehicle so it’s not wanting to tip,” explained Jeremy Holbrook, Napoleon Township assistant fire chief. “The scenario would be that there are people inside [the car]. In order to get them out, we would probably be going through the back window or taking the doors off to be able to get to them. With people in there, you don’t want [the car] tipping or moving where the terrain is not level or rolling on somebody.”

Firefighters also worked through a scenario where a person could be trapped underneath a vehicle and the vehicle needed to be lifted.

Multiple tools are available to firefighters for lifting and stabilizing vehicles at the scene of an accident.

 “It’s all about getting firefighters to understand their equipment and how the equipment can be used to accomplish multiple tasks,” said Don Drent, a senior instructor for START Rescue who helped conduct the training. “When we come to a vehicle accident, there are a lot of things that are unknown. We have to figure out how to get the vehicle stable so we can provide the best care for our patient and allow for the stability to relate to the work that we’re going to perform to protect our firefighters as well.”(more below)

Becky Livermore, who has been a firefighter for about a year with the Napoleon Township Fire Department, attended the workshop. “This training is really exciting for me because these are tools I’ve never actually trained with before and I’ve always been curious how to use them,” she said. “Now that I’m seeing how simple they can be, I’m far more comfortable even with just a few hours we’ve put in today.”

START Rescue has been in existence for over 30 years and conducts up to 150 trainings annually all over the United States. Since 1989, the company has been providing technical rescue training and equipment to the municipal, industrial and wilderness sectors.

“We’re a lot of like-minded people that work together, love the job, and like teaching firefighters,” noted Osburn.

START Rescue Instructor Aaron Osburn demonstrates how to use a Paratech Strut to stabilize a flipped-over car.




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