Training to Save Lives

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt Vernon Moore
  • 155 ARW/PA
The ability to respond quickly with precision and accuracy to accidents is the key to saving lives. 

Gaining knowledge and honing skills to save lives from wrecked autos is just what members of the Nebraska Air National Guard (NEANG) practiced. 

During the Aug. UTA, firefighters of the 155th Civil Engineer Squadron spent a day participating in vehicle extrication training. The training took place at the NEANG base fire station on Saturday, Aug. 1. 

Training began indoors for the classroom portion and then the firefighters ventured outdoors to participate in the hands on segment. 

Civilian Chief Firefighter Scott Loos, of the Nebraska Air National Guard fire and rescue unit, helping with the training said, "We do this annually where we bring the cars out and take each shift, the civilian and guard firefighters, and give them hands on training." 

Vehicle extrication is different from other aspects of firefighting, there may not be a fire involved and the focus is to safely extract an injured patient from a wrecked automobile. Specialized tools for handling this type of scenario such as hydraulic cutters and spreaders are different than some of the typical tools used by the firefighters. 

Firefighter Staff Sgt. David Parker said, "This training keeps your skills up so if you are faced with these types of situations, in the Area of Responsibility (AOR) or civilian side, that you're familiar with the tools and techniques needed for it." 

The classroom portion of the vehicle extrication lesson included a PowerPoint presentation which covered; vehicle construction and wiring, airbag locations and how they deploy, tool familiarization and how they work, new hybrid vehicle construction as well as safety procedures. The firefighters then moved to the hands-on portion of their training. 

Outside of the fire station, two salvaged vehicles, acquired from an auto recycling company, were placed in a simulated accident configuration, with one vehicle overturned and partially overlapping the other. 

According to Loos, when the firefighters arrive on the scene of an accident the firefighters first perform a scene size up. A scene size up encompasses; the number of vehicles, the number and condition of the patients, and the positioning of the vehicles. Within the scene size up the firefighters decide upon the best techniques to use for stabilizing the vehicle(s) and patient(s) as well as which tools and extrication procedures to use. 

While some firefighters are stabilizing the automobiles, others are getting the extrication tools and first aid items ready. Stabilizing the vehicle(s) is important so the automobile does not shift or move during the extrication as to not cause further damage to the patients or firefighters. Straps and cribbing (wood or plastic blocks and wedges) are used to secure the cars before using the hydraulic cutters and spreaders to gain access to the patients. 

At the end of the training Staff Sgt. Jason Loch, firefighter for the 155th Air Refueling Wing, summed it up by saying, "This is valuable training because it is nice to go out and implement what they have learned from hours of training. It gives the younger firefighters a chance to become more comfortable with their tools and develop their skills."