Watch three technical rescue teams negotiate an obstacle course at the Structural Collapse Technician (SCT) program taught by Spec Rescue at Westover ARB in Chicopee. In this segment, the teams move a large heavy concrete block using hand tools, ropes, lumber and mechanical advantage systems. It took just over an hour to complete the entire course.
For eight straight days in October, 3 of the Massachusetts technical rescue teams participated in a Structural Collapse Technician course taught be Spec Rescue at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee. This high level technician course meets and exceeds the NFPA 1670 and 1006 standards, and is based on the exact course outline of the FEMA US&R course taught to the national task forces. This is THE course for the serious rescue technician. At the conclusion of this course the student are capable of hazard recognition, equipment use, and techniques necessary to operate safely and effectively at structural collapse incidents involving the collapse or failure of concrete tilt-up, reinforced concrete, and steel construction. They learned the process for search operations intended to locate victims trapped inside and beneath collapse debris as well as procedures for accessing and extricating victims trapped beneath collapse debris. The course was a combination of hands on activities, field work, lectures, case studies and group work. The course requires 8 days, 80 hours total.
Check out the Western Mass Technical Rescue Team practice slope evacuation at the historic Knightville Dam in Huntington (3:23). For best experience, click the lower right icon to view in fullscreen mode.
Did you know there are more than 200 towers in Western Massachusetts dedicated to communications infrastructure along? This does not includes structures for power lines, water storage or wind turbines - and industry analysts are optimistic that there will be more towers built over the coming decade to support the increasing demand for communications and energy around the region. These towers require maintenance which means technicians will be operating at height in sometimes remote locations. In the past 10 years, there have been nearly 100 fatal accidents by tower technicians in the U.S..
The Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team has been training for these possibilities for more than two years and has drilled on multiple sites around region in preparation for operating in this unique and dangerous environment.
Setting up typical rope systems for lifting and lowering of equipment, technicians and victims is further complicated by hazards such as high voltage lines.
WMTRT Rescue Technicians have a foundation built on basic principles of traditional climbing techniques, fall protection, knots and ropes, and personal protective equipment such as helmets and harnesses, and become very familiar with all equipment in the cache.
Hazards unique to the tower rescue environment include exposure to radio frequencies, and working in proximity to high tension electrical lines. WMTRT technicians must also be aware of situations that tower workers may be especially prone to such as suspension trauma, an effect which occurs when the human body is held upright without any movement for a period of time.
The Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team is proud to be affiliated with the Massachusetts Association of Technical Rescue Specialists (MATRS) Here is the third of four video clips showing some of the MATRS technical rescue teams doing what they do best.
Go to www.MATRS.org for more information.
The Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team is proud to be affiliated with the Massachusetts Association of Technical Rescue Specialists (MATRS) Here is the second of four video clips showing a few of MATRS technical rescue teams doing what they do best.
Go to www.MATRS.org for more information.
Built in 1928, the Amherst Fire Department Central Station serves as one of the oldest operating fire stations in Western Massachusetts. Below the apparatus floor is a twisting, dusty crawl space approximately 75 feet long with a height and width of only about 42 inches square. Add to the mix that the tunnel is is pitch black, there are hot pipes and stone pillars creating choke points along the way and random debris cluttering the floor, the tunnel made for a realistic and challenging setting for the WMTRT March 3, 2016 drill.
The scenario involved a worker who entered a confined space to perform maintenance and was overcome by a toxic atmosphere.
Rescuers entered the space in pairs. First teams into the hole focused on reaching the victim to perform an initial assessment and apply breathing apparatus connected to supplied air. After the area was surveyed, a fresh team returned to the victim with equipment needed to package him and begin the slow and difficult task of a horizontal drag operation, all while protecting the victim from further injury.
In addition to activity below grade, a large amount of work was going on above to assure adequate air was available for rescuers and the victim.
The rescue operation then transitioned to removing the victim vertically, out the small opening in the concrete floor using ropes, mechanical advantage systems and highpoint anchors. Hardwired communication systems are utilized in potentially explosive atmospheres to reduce hazards and improve direct contact with teams operating in the confined space. Supplied air provide rescuers with extended time to operate in these conditions. The disadvantage of both of these systems is the need to manage the lines while entering and exiting the space, as they might easily get ensnared by an obstacle along the way, delaying the operation or potentially worse.
Teams are staged, ready to enter the space or perform additional rescues.
The rescue operation took well over an hour to complete, but eventually the victim was removed from the space.
A great deal is learn by WMTRT members each time they have the opportunity to utilize training and equipment in these realistic settings.
The team would like to thank Chief Nelson and the rest of the Amherst Fire Department for hosting the March 2016 training, and both the Western Mass Fire Chiefs Association and Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council for their ongoing support.
This conversation between WMTRT Assistant Team Leader Daryl Springman, Berkshire Team Leader Jason Saunders and Westover Fire Department Captain Paul Bradford is the last in the series from the February high angle training on the base. WMTRT would again like to extend a thank you to Westover and is looking forward to another opportunity to work together again in the near future.
The Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team is proud to be affiliated with the Massachusetts Association of Technical Rescue Specialists (MATRS) Here is the first of several video clips showing a few of MATRS technical rescue teams doing what they do best. Go to www.MATRS.org for more information.
Matt Normandin, WMTRT Hampden County Team Leader, describes the hardwired communication system that is deployed during confined space operations in order to reduce hazards in dangerous atmospheres that may be encountered. This system is intrinsically safe and would be utilized during standby and rescue situations.
What type of system does your team use? Use the comments section below to join the conversation.
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