The Stephenville Fire Department and Erath County Volunteer Fire Rescue departments hosted a fire ops training on Saturday, and boy am I sore. We were challenged physically, mentally and somewhat emotionally.
First, we were put through an EMS scenario, responding to a 55-year-old man who suffered from cardiac arrest in the shower. The patient was slumped over a stand-up shower.
My heart sunk imagining what it would be like to actually find someone like this.
Immediately we had to secure the patient’s neck and transport him on the stretcher. CPR was definitely the most important step; it not only keeps the heart pumping as well as the medicines injected.
Responders don’t waste time searching for a vein, but instead use a small gun to create a small fracture to pump medicine through the bone marrow.
We used a defibrillator to read the patient’s heart rate and delivered shocks when needed. We intubated the patient and transported him to the ambulance.
Between taking turns on CPR and keeping all details in mind, the process was overwhelming for a first-timer.
The extrication exercise was the most physically enduring when we saved a trapped victim out of a car.
Together we used the Jaws of Life and a hydraulic cutting tool to cut all four doors off the vehicle. Even though operating the tools was a struggle, the thought of saving the person inside kept me going.
I sawed off the windshield as my team took care of the back.
The next thing I knew, we had the entire roof of the car removed. When we accessed the victim, we transported him from the vehicle to a stretcher, then to a helicopter that showed up.
We then climbed the ladder on the fire truck that extended 65-feet. For a person that’s not so fond of heights, this was challenging mentally, but after everyone’s encouragement, I felt safe that nothing would go wrong - and up I went.
Finally, we got our air tanks and masks on to fight some fires. We shadowed the fire fighters to see how it’s done. When entering, it was nearly pitch dark and anytime you can’t see your feet, you need to be on your knees.
Once we found where the fire was, someone reported it was over 900 degrees. It was encouraged to stay low because the temperature level standing up and kneeling down are drastically different.
We had two people holding the hose and I had the lever. I aimed above the fire and slowly eased on the lever.
When it was extinguished, we reported to outside fire fighters for “ventilation.” We opened a window in the room, while they guys outside turned on a fan, pushing air through.
Inside, we aimed the hose toward the window. Between the fan and the hose, they just sucked the smoke out of the window. I found this interesting to watch.
We then took a break to rehabilitate before going back in. I took off my mask and jacket to find my hair, shorts and T-shirt to be soaked. But I wanted to experience a hotter fire.
We were then separated into two groups, one search and rescue team and one fire fighting team.
As soon as my team found the fire, the other team was dragging out the victim. Having to manage around the rescue team and still put out the fire was a rush! Even when we put out the main fire, on our way out, another fire had started, taking me by surprise.
At the end of the day, we sat down for some chopped brisket sandwiches to reflect on the day.
I can’t wait for the departments to put on another event to share what all they are capable of.