At the end of this month, Washington Township firefighters will participate in an international rescue competition.
Team Rescue Methods -- a seven-member unit composed of five members from the Washington Township Fire Department, one member from the Barberton Fire Department and one member from Jackson Township Fire Department -- will compete March 28-30 in GRIMP North America, an international rescue skills challenge hosted by CMC, which manufactures and distributes life-safety equipment and education.
The team is one of 10 that will compete in Los Angeles on a decommissioned U.S. Navy battleship.
Dalan Zartman, a Galena resident who has served as a Washington Township firefighter for 18 years, said he and other team members are participating for the first time because the competition, typically held in Belgium, is coming to the U.S. for the first time.
The 10 teams that were selected went through a six-month vetting process, Zartman said.
Members of Team Rescue Methods are all instructors for a program the Washington Township Fire Department offers in partnership with Bowling Green State University, Zartman said.
The township serves as a regional campus where people can come to receive training and certification in rescue technology.
Heavy rescue, Zartman said, includes six disciplines: structural collapse, water rescue, confined space rescue, vehicle and machine rescue, rope rescue and trench rescue.
The competition in Los Angeles will cover confined space and rope rescue, he said. The team will have to complete five rescue scenarios in which an injured or incapacitated rescuer or victim needs to be retrieved. Each scenario has to be completed in 90 minutes.
To ready for the competition, the team has been practicing off duty about twice per week -- eight to 10 hours each session -- for several months, Zartman said.
The practice gives the team members an opportunity to get extra training in and familiarize themselves with new techniques and equipment, Zartman said, and ultimately apply that to their work with their own departments. The biggest reward is the opportunity to enhance and refine his ability to save lives, Zartman said.
Although technical rescues don't occur often, when they do, they involve more risk, Zartman said. Three to five rope rescues per year typically occur at Shawan Falls, he said.
Like Zartman, Jesse Hill, a lieutenant with the Washington Township Fire Department and a London resident, said the biggest benefit from the team's practice is the overall improvement of his own skills. As his knowledge increases, his ability to oversee the safe operation of a rescue also improves, he said.
Climbing rope is a full-body movement and requires a lot of leg and back muscle work. As such, the team members have been preparing by doing a lot of squats, core work, abdominal exercises and upper back work.