LOT site hosts rescue simulations
TVFR, Clackamas Fire join in simulated crane and confined space rescues
They are called tower cranes for a reason.
Looking up at one of the two cranes stationed at the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership construction site Saturday, Clackamas Fire Battalion Chief Brian Rooney admitted that his crew had a daunting task ahead.
I know our ladder truck wouldnt reach up, Rooney said. Its probably about 125 feet up there.
As he spoke, Rooney was preparing for a simulated rope rescue at the top of the crane a joint effort by Clackamas Fire District 1 and Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue. The crane rescue was part of a two-pronged training seminar at the LOT site, with a confined space rescue simulation scheduled for later in the day.
The idea, according to Rooney, was to bring some real world flavor into the training for both departments.
We have technical rescue teams from each department, Rooney said. These teams are very involved, they train on a weekly basis on their different disciplines. So wherever we have something like this real world we try to take advantage of it.
In the crane scenario, the operator had fallen ill, suffering from a heart attack or some other malady. With the sick operator stuck 125 feet above the ground, the rescue workers were left with just two options.
It comes down to a helicopter or rope rescue, Rooney said. And rope rescue is much safer and efficient.
Still, Rooney said a rope rescue was quite an operation, and that proved true as the crews hurried to set up a pulley system and carry the ropes to the top of the crane. Once the ropes were set up and a basket was in place, the patient could be lowered to the ground.
What always gets me on the rope rescues is how long they take, Rooney said. Any of these technical rescues, theyre low-frequency and high-hazard for everyone involved, so we dont run these very often. When you do, theyre incredibly dangerous and incredibly technical.
The operation went by without a hitch on Saturday, however, and later that afternoon the crews moved on to a simulated confined space rescue.
Confined space stuff is all around us, Rooney said. Confined spaces are basically places that are not designed for continuous occupancy. You can have gas imbalance that is not going to support life.
Thats another one thats highly technical and highly dangerous for us.
Rooney compared the operation to entering a tank, with one tight entrance space. At times, such rescues involve dragging a victim through sewer pipes toward safety.
The common denominator with both rope and confined-space rescues is that time is secondary to safety.
Our objective is to get this person safely down to the ground, Rooney said. What time in the real world doesnt really interest us the most important thing is doing it safely and learning from each other.
Last Saturdays training exercise was the second of three sessions. The final drills will take place this Saturday.
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