Firefighters and EMTs regularly deal with routine calls for assistance, and occasionally are challenged by complex incidents that require the use of resources beyond any one agency’s capability. This was the case on Tuesday night for the Washington Township Volunteer Fire Department.
The Washington Township Volunteer Fire Department was called to a reported motor vehicle crash where a car had plunged down into a ravine approximately 20-30 feet. When the fire department arrived, they found a car precariously perched on its top in a large ticket of trees and thorn ridden bushes. Almost immediately an unconscious victim with multiple injuries was located in the brush 12-15 feet from the vehicle. This person had been ejected from the vehicle during the crash. In addition, two occupants were trapped upside-down inside the badly mangled car.
Division Chief Mike Eckhardt recognized the complex situation before his crew and immediately called for additional resources, not only from his department, but also from the Porter County Technical Rescue Team (PCTRT). The PCTRT is a specialty team comprised of members from various fire departments in Porter County that have specialized training in Rope Rescue, Trench Rescue, Confined Space Rescue, and Structural Collapse Rescue.
As additional apparatus and equipment arrived, attention was focused on gaining access to the vehicle. Crews then began to stabilize the vehicle to prevent the car from sliding further down the hill and to provide a stable platform to extricate the remaining victims.
The PCTRT was tasked with setting up a rope system to facilitate the movement of personnel and equipment up and down the ravine, and to remove the victims up the hill after they had been extricated.
Members of the WTVFD continued to work to stabilize the vehicle and then started the delicate process of removing the victims from the car. One patient was unconscious in the back seat and the driver was conscious but entrapped in the vehicle.
Approximately 40 minutes into the rescue effort the unconscious victim was removed from the vehicle and carried to awaiting medical crews by the PCTRT. An additional 15 minutes of extrication was required to remove the driver from the vehicle. He was also secured into a “stokes” basket and lifted to awaiting medical crews.
Rescue efforts from start to finish were completed in approximately 65 minutes with a total of three victims being rescued.
IT’S ONLY A TRAINING EXERCISE?
While this was a carefully thought out and planned training exercise, it was conducted without any briefing or preparation for the responders. It was a great opportunity to for crews to mitigate what is known in Emergency Services as a “Low Frequency, High Risk Event” – an event that is rare, requires skills that not used very often, and poses a very real threat to the safety of not only the “victims” but also the rescuers working to free the victims. In addition, it was a great opportunity for our department to work with the Porter County Technical Rescue Team and utilize the specialized set of skills they offer to our community.
This was, in my opinion, a very successful training exercise. We were able to provide a unique opportunity for some of our newer members to gain valuable experience that could not be otherwise duplicated in a classroom. Our newer officers also were tested and were able gain valuable command experience while they supervised the rescue effort and coordinated operations between agencies on scene.
This unique training opportunity could not have been possible without the generous support of Young Brothers Trucking for use of the land. Also supporting training efforts was Bentley’s Towing who donated the vehicle used in the exercise as well as transporting, setting-up and recovering the vehicle after the exercise.
The Washington Township Volunteer Fire Department provides Emergency Medical Services, Firefighting and Rescue Services to the citizens of Washington Township and the citizens of Porter County through an existing Mutual Aid Agreement and is available for Public Education opportunities. For additional information about the Washington Township Volunteer Fire Department and our services or to inquire about membership, please visit www.washingtonfire.net.
Copyright Washington Township Volunteer Fire Department 2013