Rescues in Tight Spaces

NEWPORT CITY – Over the weekend, firefighters from four Northeast Kingdom Communities participated in confined space rescue training at the Newport City Fire Department. The departments that took part in the four-day class include Newport City, Jay, Orleans and Newark. Confined space rescue involves the rescue and recovery of victims trapped in a confined space or in a place accessible through a confined space, such as underground vaults, storage silos, storage tanks or sewers. “We have a lot of employers around the country that have confined spaces,” explained trainer Scott Goodwin of Toledo, Ohio. “We, as the fire service, need to be able to perform those rescues effectively and efficiently."The Newport City Fire Department and Jay Fire Department both have technical rescue equipment.“Between the two of us, we have a great setup,” said Newport City Fire Chief Jamie LeClair.“If we have an incident, we’re going to call them; and if they have an incident, they're going to call us."There are numerous reasons why rescue personnel may have to rescue someone from a confined space. An atmospheric problem may leave a person unconscious, there may be a medical problem or an accident. Confined rescues happen more often than people think.“They just don’t get reported as such unless it’s a major incident,” said Goodwin. Because of the number of fatalities, the federal government is targeting confined spaces in silos and granaries all over the country. Rescue personnel who are not properly trained have the potential to become victims themselves. “We go from a victim who is down and needing assistance to two, three, five people.”Area rescue personnel do not normally have confined rescue calls, but when they do, department officials want to make sure everyone goes home, said LeClair. He said that years ago rescue personnel used to go “in the hole” no matter the consequences.“There is equipment that is available to us,” said LeClair. Departments from Newport City and Jay obtained the equipment around 2005. However, the departments never trained as hard as they did this past weekend. They had done some basic training. “This just advances our training.”Both Goodwin and LeClair said that in the past firefighters primarily responded to fires and car accidents.“Now we’re disciplined in technical rescue,” said Goodwin. “We do structural collapse, high angle ropes, water rescue, confined space rescue and trench rescue and heavy machinery rescue. The fire service has evolved tremendously over the last 10 years.”Doug James, Jay Fire Chief,called it a very good training session.