MOBERLY- Moberly Fire Department firefighters dropped down 8 feet underground Thursday to rescue two mock victims.
“It’s a little tight, not much room to move,” Roy Holtkamp, Lieutenant at Moberly Fire Department said.
Responders like Holtkamp did this for a three-day trench rescue training hosted by MU Fire and Rescue, to prepare in case a real emergency comes into play.
“It’s a low frequency occurrence, but it’s a high risk event,” Kevin Whissmann, training instructor at MU Fire and Rescue said. “You never know what the dirt is going to do. We don’t know when that secondary collapse can happen. A cubic yard of dirt weighs 100 pounds. So take a milk crate fill it full of dirt, and that’s 100 pounds. So there can be 8 to 10, 20, 30 cubic pounds on somebody.”
While this type of emergency does not happen often, one group of people faces the risk more often than others.
“Our public works, you know, they spend daily upgrading our sewer and water systems and we feel better prepared now to handle a situation that they may need to be rescued or assisted in," Holtkamp said.
The first day consisted of awareness training, while the last two days were based on operations or hands-on tasks. As much as responders wanted to jump in and take on the actual trench training, Moberly Fire Chief George Albert said doing the prep work and learning is just as important.
“If we don’t take that time to prepare ourselves and be safe, we can actually have more victims and more people hurt,” Albert said.
These scenarios do happen. Whissmann had a first-hand experience with a rescue gone wrong.
“I’ve actually worked one where we had three individuals trapped, one completely, one up to his chest, and one up to his waist,” Whissmann said. "They just kept going in to get there buddy and that happens frequently. It’s an emotional thing firemen, we want to jump in, but we need to get into their minds that safety is our paramount.”
Safety was not the only reason Albert planned the training. He also viewed it as an opportunity for collaboration. A few employees from Moberly utilities and responders from Macon Fire Department participated in the training as well.
“I’m real proud of my guys participating in all three days, which is a big statement for the Moberly fire department, and having some of the Macon guys come down and be a part of this experience, because we’re going to be the ones working together on these calls so that’s going to help us get an understanding on who we are,” Albert said.
Around 30 people participated in total. Albert said they had a couple people they had to turn away.
MU Fire and Rescue covered the cost of the awareness portion of the training, and Moberly Fire Department paid for the operations portion of the training, which cost about $4,700.