Recent Fire Gives Local Emts the Training Experience Of a Lifetime
|Fire fighters wait for a helicopter to land.|
The recent fire on Ferron Mountain brought about an opportunity the forest service took advantage of. This opportunity was the chance to train local Ferron EMTs on fire protocol.
Fred Kaminski, of the Ferron Ranger Station spoke about the recent fire. He said, "The fire was in a steep area and was very hazardous to put out. The original plan of action was to let the fire burn to the natural barriers to fire. Fire is dealt with in three ways; to confine the fire is to let it burn to those natural barriers. To contain the fire is to work on it a little; and to control the fire is to put it out completely. A group of specialists will look at each individual fire and determine what will be done with it. Resource specialists, forest supervisors, line supervisors and fire specialists will discuss the fire. The Ferron Mountain fire was an ugly place to put people.
"To begin with we sent eight people up to see that the fire didn't come off the west side. Then a few days into the fire 70 mph winds helped the fire along. A 20 person hot shot team was brought in from Logan as well as two helicopters. The helicopters dipped out of Millsite Reservoir and dumped the water on the fire.
"The crew had to hike into the area. It is ugly terrain and they had to go up steep cliffs. This is beautiful elk range. With the crew on the mountain and the high winds there was a real possibility of injury to those involved. At this point, we decided to involve the local EMTs. We brought them to a helibase in a field south of Ferron and briefed them on procedure and safety protocol.
"We had to weight the rescue equipment and the EMTs as well. We need to know exactly the weight of everything because the helicopter has a load capacity. They were shown how to board the helicopter while it was running and the blades were turning. They were instructed on how to work on a patient while in transit.
"Depending on the degree of a possible injury. The victim might be brought out and a transfer made to transport them to the University of Utah burn center. It just depends on the injury as to what would happen and where the patient would go. We didn't use the EMTs, which we are thankful for; but we know they are ready to go into a situation like this if needed.
|Emergency medical technicians are instructed in helicopter safety protocols.|
"There are fire fighters on the mountain that are trained as EMTs, but they carry with them only a bare minimum of supplies and their fire gear. These EMTs bring with them more advanced forms of life support. It made sense to us at the forest service to reinforce the link between the mountain and the local EMT force. Also by training the locals we can keep the costs down. If we never use it then great; but if we do then everything is set up," said Kaminski.
Ann King, from the forest service said they are a month and a half early for the fire season. Local Ferron EMTs who were involved in the training include: Becky Nelson, Doris Walker, Maureen Copatch and Carey Boomer.
The EMTs said they all enjoyed the training and it was very fun. "We learned how to approach the helicopter and how to buckle in and out. We learned how to shut down for a hard landing. We learned how to take the removable transmitter with us in case of a crash landing so we would be able to be located. We also learned how to turn it on.
"We learned how to stock the helicopter with what we needed for an emergency. We put an oxygen tank and a backboard into the helicopter. We learned what a jump kit was. We also learned there are emergency survival kits on board with food and water to be used in a crash situation. We really enjoyed the experience. It was kind of windy that day, so we looked pretty wind blown. Probably the worst part was when we had to weigh in. They needed to know our weight and the weight of our equipment. 'It was a low blow,' they joked.
"We feel confident we could handle an emergency situation. It's not really any different than what we are used to; just the arriving on the scene in a helicopter would be different. The people at the forest service have been great, they were very organized and helpful," They said.
Nelson said, "It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and probably the closest I'll come to knowing what it would be like to be a flight nurse. Walker said it was her first time in a helicopter and she enjoyed the experience. "It was exciting but I'm glad we didn't have to go on an emergency.
John Healy, from the Ferron Ranger Station said, "We don't normally have a lot of fires in our area, but this year things are setting up to have a bunch. The majority will be from lightening strikes, similar to the fire we just put out. I am glad the local EMTs were willing to go through this training. In some fire situations, they have ambulances sitting on call.
The EMTs appreciate the support of the sheriff's office and Ferron City and the local community. Copatch said, "I was very impressed with the way safety comes first. The safety of the EMTs and the fire fighters was the primary concern of the forest service."
Kaminski said, "The lives of our people are more important than the forest."