A day in the life: Leaders get taste of firefighting
Safely and accurately placing a breathing tube down the trachea of an injured patient can be tricky.
It's even harder to pull off in the back of a medic speeding down the winding back roads of Liberty Township.
Community leaders got to practice that skill and others as participants in the Liberty Township Fire Department's first Fire Ops 101 program, held Saturday, Aug. 18, at Station 321 on Liberty Road.
During the six-hour, invitation-only workshop, they participated in a full day of role-playing exercises as honorary firefighter-paramedics. They climbed into the sewer during an enclosed-space rescue operation, pulled victims from cars after a head-on collision and raced to the hospital in the back of a medic.
Firefighter Josh Barnhart said the hands-on workshop is a way to help residents understand the challenges facing firefighters and paramedics in the field.
"The biggest part is helping them understand all that goes into the job," he said. "It's not just about showing up and cutting apart a car. There's so much training and preparation and teamwork that goes into every single run we make."
He was one of several off-duty firefighters who taught the workshop.
Three students enrolled in the workshop, which Fire Chief Tim Jensen said might become a yearly event. The participants were Powell City Councilman Jim Hrivnak; Columbus Zoo Security Director Richard Rapp; and Roxie Dragoo, who helps to run the homeowners association in Powell's Strathshire subdivision.
Participants started the day by practicing fire suppression and rescue operations.
They learned procedures for rolling out fire hoses and practiced climbing a ladder to rescue someone trapped on an upper floor of a burning building.
The fire rescue portion of the class capped off when participants entered the department's smoke-filled training trailer in full gear to rescue a victim trapped inside.
Plastic dummies served as victims in all of the program's scenarios, and a safe, breathable fog substituted for the deadly smoke caused by a real fire.
Dragoo said she enrolled because the local fire department put out an electrical fire at her home eight years ago.
"I don't wonder what these guys do because I've seen what they do," she said, "but I wanted to get that first-hand experience and share it with my neighborhood.
"I had no idea it would be so comprehensive," she added.
Later, a simulated car crash gave participants the chance to tear through the steel body of a car with the Jaws of Life to rescue the victims trapped inside the vehicles.
Two scrap cars were imported on their way to the junkyard for the activity. Their bumpers and doors were smashed in to simulate the potential consequences of a roadway collision.
Participants used a heavy, handheld spreader to pry open the doors, then used massive blades to cut away the sides of the cars with brute force and extricate the victims.
The day ended with students practicing emergency medical procedures on training dummies, including CPR, injections and intubation, or the practice of inserting a breathing tube into a patient's throat.
Then they got to practice those skills as paramedics use them: in the back of a medic as it speeds down winding township roads.
Participants also got a chance to see the quieter side of the firefighting life and enjoy a lunch prepared by firefighters in the station's kitchen.
"We don't just come to work here. We live here for a third of our lives," Jensen said. "That's just another way that we hope that people go away from this with a much better understanding of what we do on a day-to-day basis."