When a call comes into the fire department – whether you’ve trained once or many times, you need to be prepared. That is the mindset of the Newberry Fire Department when it comes to training their staff.
Recently, members of the Newberry Fire Department had the opportunity to take part in school bus extrication training. Training was offered to on/off duty full time firefighters, but also to volunteers who were able to participate.
“While we hope the situation never arises, our department is always preparing to respond to our community’s needs,” said Fire Chief Keith Minick.
Every incident involving a motor vehicle is different, which makes training for many types of scenarios important in the fire service, said Captain Gene Shealy, recruitment and retention coordinator for the City of Newberry.
When cutting into cars for extrication purposes, Shealy said the model of car makes all the difference – with the hazards of airbags and other options being different on a 1995 versus 2014 model vehicle.
The same goes for the school bus extrication training, he said with having to cut into something that large requiring more specialized training and equipment.
“We come up with as many different scenarios as we can think of, evening considering how a vehicle is placed when we would arrive on scene, whether it’s on its roof or side and so on,” Shealy said on extrication training.
Minick said with large tour buses coming into the City for events at the Newberry Opera House, from church vans and large passenger vehicles, the event that extrication training on larger vehicles is needed is a possibility.
The Newberry Fire Department also runs calls for incidents that occur on the interstate which gives way to incidents involving a lot heavier equipment to include 18-wheeler vehicles.
Annually, Minick said the department completes basic auto extrication training. However, they try to acquire large vehicles such as school buses to do training when they can. The department has partnered with local salvage yards as well as other agencies so that when these vehicles come available, they can take advantage of the training opportunity.
While the Newberry Fire Department does not have a training facility to perform these types of drills, Minick said they have been creative and improvised to get different areas to train and provide for their community.
In the past few years, Minick said several staff have gone to training outside of Newberry County for a specialized weekend of entanglement training to include auto extrication or incidents that have left vehicles hanging off of a bridge.
“Those individuals go off, learn new techniques and bring it back to the department and we try to implement that the best way we can to get that training for our people,” Minick said.
There are several other training techniques that Shealy said the department tries to take part in to include high angle rescue and confined space rescue which would involve someone who was potentially trapped in something not designed for human occupancy, such as a manhole.
During their recent extrication training, both departments’ fire engines were out during the training. However, were ready to respond to a call, should the need arise.
“They set their engines in a place they could get out quickly and know that if a call comes in they have to stop what they’re doing and respond to that call, Minick said. “No matter the training, we have our trucks available to respond to a call, but they are also involved, rather than out of service, waiting for a call to come in.”
Minick said that fortunately in the Newberry community, they do not have an abundance of fire calls. However, Shealy said that while fire calls may be down, their response has grown so much in the level of vehicle extrication, technical rescue and assistance to police and EMS.
“The environment is ever-changing and as our world continues to change and new hazards evolve, so does our training and response planning,” Shealy said.
Manpower is always a big issue, Shealy said when it comes to any call the department receives and that anyone wishing to give back to their local community can reach out to the Newberry Fire Department at 803-321-1030. Shealy can guide those interested in volunteering through the option of not only working with their department but also within Newberry County.