Rescuing a victim from high places

TROY — During a sunny, yet brisk and windy Tuesday morning, on Nov. 8, firefighters from Troy and Piqua participated in training to rescue a victim from a high location, such as a water or cell tower. The Piqua and Troy Special-Operations Rescue Teams, which conducts specialized rescues, held training that day on ConAgra Food’s property on Dye Mill Road in Troy.

Firefighters practiced three methods called skate-block, hybrid-tension and tower-based rope training to get the victim down, both working with a dummy and a member of the team posing as a live victim.

Doug Stewart, a captain with the Piqua Fire Department (PFD), said this type of special operation training is conducted quarterly. Stewart and Josh Marchal, firefighter with Troy Fire Department (TFD), organized and led the training that lasted around six hours that day.

“We are simulating any type of tower rescue that would happen in the county, from cell towers to paint and water towers,” Marchal said. “It could be a jumper, it could be a worker that had a medical situation, it could be someone overtaken by radiation on cell towers.”

“The departments appreciates ConAgra donating the use of their tower for the training. We have a great working relationship with the community,” said Stewart.

“— And also (thanks) to Marco’s Pizza who donated the pizza,” Marchal added.

“We were doing a walk through (of ConAgra) and they offered to let us use their water tower,” Marchal said.

Training for the tower rescue techniques is organized about a month ahead of time and was open to all area Miami County fire departments. Stewart said Troy and Piqua joined together about a year ago to work together on the special peration rescues. Several members who were present that day were part of the crew that was working their 24-hour shift; others came on their day off for the training. Marchal said if a call came in, they would immediately jump into their vehicles parked near the fence of the property and respond to the emergency.

During the hands-on training for roughly 20 members of PFD and TFD, they took turns going up with others standing-by in the Troy Fire ladder truck bucket up in the air directing and supervising the training of each method conducted. Then at the end of each members’ turn, the dummy or “live victim” was safely and slowly lowered by the rope attached to ground.

Marchal noted that in Miami County there are not many tall buildings or any skyscrapers, so a water or cell tower would be probably the highest structure they would likely rescue someone from around here. When asked if they have put this training into action before, he said they haven’t conducted any tower rescues anytime recently, but it does happen from time to time.

“(The training of each individual) will just go just however long, because some people are really experienced and some people aren’t and it’ a training thing, so we are trying to take our time to teach people. This could go anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours, depending on the scenario we are training,” Stewart said. “In a real rescue situation, if this was to happen, this is not a fast process. There is a lot of safety checks that have to be done first. When someone puts on a harness even, a whole different person comes through and makes sure all of their (gear) is locked and their harness is tight enough, so there is always a redundancy on safety to make sure everything is safe. A rescue operation like this is a slow process. I mean obviously we want to do it as quick as possible, but we can’t forego safety.”