Over the past month, firefighters from both agencies had the opportunity to participate in a realistic simulation of an industrial accident at one of the mill’s inactive smoke stacks. In the training scenario, a mill employee’s leg gets trapped while he is working on a small catwalk about 125 feet above the ground. His leg is broken, and he is unable to climb down the fixed ladder attached to the smoke stack.
The mill’s safety team rushes in to offer aid and calls 911 seeking assistance from the Newberg Fire Department to rescue the employee from the smoke stack’s catwalk. Dispatch also calls in TVF&R’s Technical Rescue Team that specializes in trench and confined space rescues, vehicle entrapments, rope rescue, and building collapse.
Firefighters from both agencies must assess the situation and work together as a team to determine the best rope system to safely rescue the injured worker from the catwalk and get him to paramedics waiting to provide medical attention on the ground.
“We tried to keep the simulation as real as possible,” said Lt. Steve Johnson, who was responsible for organizing the rope rescue training for TVF&R’s Technical Rescue Team. “There are multiple ways to achieve the same goal. This training allows our team leaders to problem solve, identify hazards, create a safe plan, and ultimately get a patient out of a tough situation.”
Newberg Fire Chief Les Hallman spent time at the drills to observe how crews from both agencies collaborated. “Most departments the size of Newberg do not have the capability to support a full technical rescue team. We are extremely fortunate that TVF&R allows their team to be a regional resource. The week after these drills, Newberg Fire/EMS had to request the TVF&R team to assist with a complicated rescue at the Newberg Fred Meyers. There is no doubt that recent drill paid off in our crews being able to operate seamlessly as a team allowing for a positive outcome for the victim.”
TVF&R Fire Chief Mike Duyck is eager for more opportunities to train with Newberg. “Drills and training are fundamental for effective emergency response, and we appreciate the chance to work alongside Newberg’s crews. Though Newberg and TVF&R already run calls together because we share a border, these drills allow us an opportunity to learn from each other and improve our communication and operations.”