Firefighters from Three Rivers, George West, Swinney Switch, Lagarto, Whitsett, Kenedy, Sandia, Jim Wells and San Diego attended a 20-hour training class from April 16-18.
A group of 30 dedicated volunteer firefighters spent their weekend training for the TEEX Vehicle Rescuer Tech Level 1 state certification, hosted by Whitsett VFD.
“I’ve been trying to put together a large-scale training like this for years,” said Whitsett Fire Chief Lance Pullin. “We wanted a better training opportunity and to involve other departments so we can work together. We had a great turnout, and we learned a lot.”
Chief Pullin, who was “born and raised” in Whitsett and has been volunteering for 30 years and at the helm for the last six, said the training was the first of many hopefully.
“We provide mutual aid for the whole county and surrounding counties,” said Pullin. “It’s important to train together and get to know each other and how we work. It creates a better environment and things will run smoother on scene.”
The strict curriculum was completed by MV Fire Rescue TX, LLC, owned and operated by Matt Valdez and a dealer for Genesis Tools.
The training focused on extrication techniques and procedures involving common passenger vehicles including vehicle stabilization, cribbing, patient access and hands-on time with various tools.
Outside of the classroom, firefighters donned their turnout gear and were divided into four groups with their own instructors and multiple vehicles and dummies for practice simulation.
“With smaller groups we can provide more one-on-one instruction,” said Valdez. “Everyone gets a chance to use all of the tools and ask questions. We want everyone to be involved and learn as much as they can in a controlled setting.”
Valdez said the advancement of battery technology has improved the use of hydraulic tools, making them lighter, as well as more ergonomic and efficient.
“These are all the typical rescue tools we use,” he said. “Your saws, spreaders, cutters and ram bar. It’s important for them to be comfortable and knowledgeable with these tools and this is the time to practice and learn in scenarios.”
The firefighters practiced scene size-up, gaining access to patients by removing roofs, doors, and dashes, stabilizing a vehicle using jacks and cribbing, and finally EMS considerations.
“Extrication doesn’t stop when you open the vehicle,” said Ellie Nedell, an EMT and instructor for MV Fire Rescue TX. “In rural areas, firefighters often beat EMS to the scene, and they will be the first person to make contact with patients. We train them to keep the calm in the heat of the moment and make better decisions to help patients.”
Valdez and Chief Pullin said large trainings are good opportunities to learn from other departments with a variety of experience of what they could possibly come across later.