Fire departments practice vehicle extrication

Andrew Wagstaff
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Successful Oxford event will lead to more, Carter

OXFORD – A successful vehicle extrication training event held here last weekend will be followed by more, according to Cumberland County fire services co-ordinator Mike Carter.

The day of practice on Oct. 5, which saw firefighters from around the county form teams and participate in several drills using extrication tools such as the Jaws of Life, was successful in keeping the volunteers up to speed on the latest tools and techniques, he explained.

“It went very well,” said Carter. “We had positive comments all day. Everyone had fun and everyone learned a little bit.”

Organized jointly by the county and the Oxford fire department, the event was billed as a vehicle extrication competition open to teams from all over the county, and judges were on hand from Colchester County to take part.

Due to the varying levels of experience from the participating teams, however, the competitive aspect was removed from the event.

“It was more of a training day than anything else,” he said. “It was a learning experience.”

A total of five six-member teams took part, with each team running through two different scenarios. One was an “unlimited pit” that saw teams using all available tools in a 20-minute time limit. The second scenario was rapid entry, where each team had 10 minutes to get as much work done as possible.

Each team was sequestered for 20-30 minutes prior to the event, so they had no knowledge of what they were coming into and no opportunity to plan ahead. Each scenario included hazard props like poles, propane tanks and more.

“They had to think on their feet once they arrived on the scene, make a plan up and make it happen,” said Carter. “It makes it a little more interesting.”

Carter gained ideas for the drills from the Transportation Emergency Rescue Committee (TERC), an organization that holds challenges across North America, and which he had experience with before as part of the Amherst fire department.

The Oxford fire department hosted the event at the Cumberland County Exhibition grounds, and has already offered to host another one next year, according to Carter, who said it will “definitely” happen.

The tools for the day were provided by Micmac Fire & Safety Source, and representative John Dunbar was on the scene during the event. The vehicles for the extrication drills were provided by Denny’s Towing of Springhill.

“It’s just a great chance to get their hands on tools like hydraulic, power and different saws, and a chance to get out there and work under a little pressure,” said Carter. “It’s more of a real-life situation that just going to a junkyard and cutting up a car for something to do.”

Next up for county firefighter training will be sessions for a Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) in the southern zone of the county, which is scheduled to get underway in November, and later in the north zone. Also in progress are new automatic mutual aid systems, and online Level 1 training program that started a new rotation on Oct. 3.

Twitter: @ADNandrew

Organizations: Transportation Emergency Rescue Committee, Cumberland County Exhibition

Geographic location: Oxford, Colchester County, North America Amherst

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