ROY — Firefighters and emergency responders from four Weber County cities spent the better part of Wednesday afternoon rescuing a victim from a car that crashed into a trench. Luckily, the victim wasn’t real, and it was all training for the next time it happens to an actual person.
The group of about 40 emergency responders is from fire departments and emergency response teams from Riverdale, Roy, Ogden, South Ogden and Weber County. They make up the county’s Heavy Rescue Team, which was formed in 2003 in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The team trains in three different kinds of trenches in the backlot of Roy’s public works complex. The team worked with the city’s public works director to build the trenches for this special training that occurs once a year, said Roy firefighter Mike Hadley, his department’s main planning representative. Each entity has a representative for the team.
Responders were dressed in bright-blue rescue uniforms with yellow stripes and helmets. They pulled supplies from the heavy rescue truck, which is housed at the Riverdale fire station because it is the most central location.
Trench training is one of four training sessions for the heavy rescue unit each year. Other sessions include water rescue skills, rope extraction and other detailed rescue measures that aren’t necessarily commonplace, but do happen.
Most of the members asked to be on the team because they like the challenge and doing something different.
“I love learning the different masteries, and it’s useful throughout the community, state and even the country,” said Roy emergency responder Brooke Perkins. “I have done EMS for so many years, this is completely outside that scope.”
She loves learning the physics of the trench work and being taught the practical application of things that already make sense to her.
“All of these guys are so intelligent — I love being able to pick their brains, it’s so interesting,” she said as she put together pneumatic struts that were laid out in perfect order.
As some of the men stood in the 8-foot-deep trench, they called out numbers for sizes of pneumatic struts. Others put together the struts and beams, used to shore up the sides of the trench, and handed them down with ropes. Hadley said the group would be working on different-shaped trenches this week, simulating different scenarios.
“It is a pretty elaborate assembly,” Hadley said as he pointed out the struts, tools and boards laid out carefully on a huge tarp. The rescue truck was just as organized, as the group pulled items off the truck and ran chain saws and hand tools to cut the boards to the correct size.
Hadley said many people think the responders just jump in and save people, and don’t realize all the training and preparation that goes into it beforehand.
“There is a procedure to it, and to us it is safety first,” he said. It is vital to make the scene safe for the rescuers so a bigger incident isn’t created.
“We don’t want the rescuer to also become a victim,” Hadley said.
Although trench rescue isn’t an everyday occurrence, it is vital to know how to do it.
South Ogden firefighter Dustin Mirmontazeri said that the training is very helpful with vehicle rescue, and responding to a victim trapped in a car in a ravine in Weber or Morgan canyons is a real possibility to prepare for.
“This is a great exercise and something pretty realistic,” he said.
Because of the specialized training, any of the rescue team can be called out through Weber County Dispatch when a heavy rescue is required. Ogden has four dedicated rescue responders on duty at all times at the west Ogden Station No. 4, but the other cities have team members on different shifts at different times.
Hadley said the ultimate goal is for each department to have a dedicated rescue team and a rescue truck, but that takes money and manpower, something that is often slow to come.
But Hadley said the trainings and number of team members are growing. The county makes the team a priority, and the more fire captains who come to check out the training and what the team has to offer, the better.
“The more we do this, the more they utilize, and that is a good thing,” he said.