Rescue personnel tackle trench rescue training
The first thing most personnel at the scene of a trench collapse usually try to do is locate the victim(s). Rome-Floyd Fire Captain Clay Walker said often times that kind of quick digging can also lead to tragedies.
Asphyxiation, being trapped under soil, is the biggest threat to someone who has been caught in a trench collapse. “Things that can go wrong for whoever is on the scene. If they’ve got a backhoe, they want to start digging to find the victim, but people can get killed doing that,” Walker said. “They don’t know exactly where they’re at and dig too deep.”
“Unlike a lot of things that we do, it’s time-intensive, so it’s something we’ve really got to take our time with,” Walker said. “You’re already dealing with something that is unstable when we get there, so we have to take our time in locating the victim and getting our supplies to the scene.”
Fire Chief Troy Brock said the last trench rescue he can remember was a problem outside the old Galey & Lord mill in Shannon more than 20 years ago.
“If everybody did what they were supposed to do, a trench box, shoring it up, we should never have one,” Brock said. “There’s always some out there that don’t. It’s just one of those areas of training you have to be prepared for. It’s very specialized; you don’t just grab a shovel and start digging.”
Shoring up the walls to any trench is right at the top of the priority list during a trench rescue.
“The last couple of years we’ve been able to get all of the equipment that we need and we’ve got several people who are now designated as trench rescue technicians,” Walker said. “Now we’re getting everybody else familiar with what their jobs would be when we get on a scene.”
Every member of the Rome-Floyd County Fire Department is getting trench rescue training this week.
ABOVE: Allen Pippin (in the trench) gets help from Zack Owens (upper right) reaching into the trench during a trench rescue training exercise. Every member of the fire department will go through the training over the next two days.
LEFT: Rome firefighters start the first of three days of trench rescue training at the Fire Training Center on North Avenue.