Two people were injured and trapped at the city’s sewage treatment plant in Ukiah on Friday. Fortunately, their colleagues spent a week learning the skills needed to rescue them.
More fortunately, the rescue wasn’t real: it was the culmination of a five-day course taught by Ron Roysum of Hopland-based business Rescue Solutions, where Roysum lived and worked as a firefighter for the Hopland Fire District.
The course begins with firefighters and public works employees learning how to use the equipment needed for confined space rescues, which Roysum says can be as dangerous to rescuers as the people they’re trying to rescue.
“In confined space rescues, 60 percent of the fatalities are potential rescuers,” he said, explaining that people’s instinct to rush in to help also often leads to them being trapped, especially in the scenario created on Friday.
“Your coworkers, your friends, are trapped, so you jump in and chase them,” Roysum said, noting that having city water plant employees learn proper rescue techniques is especially beneficial because they’re likely to be their friends and Colleagues from real events that need to be saved.
Roysum describes the first day of the class as the “cornerstone” of rescue techniques, including getting familiar with the ropes, pulleys and air tanks needed to get people in and out of tight spaces.
One of the scenarios on Friday featured an injured person trapped in an underground area and rescuers rappelled him 10 feet.
“In these rescues, the number one killer is the atmosphere,” Roisam said, pointing to the masks and gas tanks worn by exercise participants, explaining that rescuers were trained to use one-third of the oxygen: “You One-third of our gas tanks are for down work, one-third for going out, and one-third for emergencies.”
To help users keep track of their air, the tank has a meter to track the amount of air remaining, and rescuers stationed above also regularly ask those below for updates on their air supply and other conditions.
While masks are of course necessary to deliver oxygen, they make other tasks more difficult, such as anything you might need to handle with your eyes, such as preparing to transport a patient.
So, Roysum says, another key part of the training is getting rescuers used to connecting, tying and pulling many ropes to lift people safely out of confined spaces while wearing the bulky equipment they typically need to keep themselves safe. Safety.
Another benefit of the training, one participant noted, is that firefighters and plant employees learn to work with each other as well as equipment.That way it’s more likely to succeed when a real rescue is needed