Firefighter-paramedics from throughout Eastern Missouri and as far away as Kansas City came to the West County EMS and Fire Protection District training center on Manchester Road for a program designed to sharpen their knowledge and skills in emergency extrication techniques.
Nearly 100 first responders from 27 fire protection districts and departments participated in the program, which included a half-day of classroom instruction and a half-day of demonstrations and hands-on practice in how to reach and extricate victims trapped beneath heavy objects and in various types of vehicle accidents. A similar agenda applied to a separate attendee group on the following day.
A safety team from Holmatro, a Netherlands-based company with manufacturing facilities in Glen Burnie, Maryland, conducted the program. The firm makes hydraulic equipment and systems used for rescue, industrial and special tactics operations around the world.
Using actual vehicles, the extrication scenarios included cars in a variety of situations such as having one on its side in a location where access was difficult, another upside down with the roof caved in, one having other crush damage, and one run underneath the trailer of a semi. A mannequin also was partially pinned under a more than two-ton concrete slab for demonstrating how to use power tools to free victims trapped under heavy objects.
While West County EMS/FPD did not receive any of the $99 per participant registration fee, Chief Ernie Rhodes said the district was “money ahead” in serving as host of the training rather than paying travel expenses and fees of up to $1,000 each for its firefighters to attend such a program elsewhere. Fifteen district personnel took part in the training here.
West County’s training center, which includes its Safety House for teaching children and other family members how to deal with home fires and other emergencies, is located behind Station 2 at 13790 Manchester Road. Viewed as one of the best operations of its type in the area, the facility was financed with part of the funds from a $19 million bond issue approved by West County voters in 2008.
In addition to conducting the program, Holmatro handled other logistics for the sessions, including arrangements for vehicles used in the training, supplying all the power tools, and providing the featured speaker, a doctor who serves as medical director of the Road to Indy Racing Series and the company’s safety team physician.