By Marg Jackson
Escalon Times, October 10,2007

Firefighters from more than a dozen departments from around the state converged in Escalon for some hands on training in the latest extrication equipment. Co-sponsored by the Escalon and Ripon fire departments, the two day workshop was offered Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 3 and 4 2007.  Dubbed the 'Rip'n It Up' program, the training included classroom instruction at Ripon Station 2 on Wednesday morning, with some hands on training at Escalon Station 2 near Van Allen Elementary along Highway 120 on Wednesday afternoon and a full day of training on Thursday at Escalon Station 2.

"We have five 'pits' going on," explained Escalon Fire Captain Randy Reid, who helped coordinate the class. "The pits are scenes, we have one where we have a car stacked on top of a car, another where we have a vehicle over an embankment on its roof."   In all the scenarios, firefighters worked to assess the situation, then used the various tools to stabilize the vehicles and then proceed with the extrication process. There were no victims in the cars, the scenarios focusing more on getting the firefighters familiar with the stabilization procedure and the ripping up of the vehicles safely with the extrication equipment.

In the overturned vehicle scenario down the embankment, for instance, Reid said the crew was charged with stabilizing the car in place so it wouldn't slide down the embankment, then had to remove the doors and take the roof off from underneath.

"Instructors are all from L.N. Curtis," Reid added, noting that the fire safety equipment distributor had personnel on scene for the entire training program. Much of the new extrication equipment Escalon Fire Department has in service was purchased from  the firm.

"Fantastic, "Escalon Fire Chief Rick Mello summarized, as he looked at the groups of firefighters involved in the intensive training on Thursday.   "I'm a training officer at heart and we have the motto that all training is good training, but this is great training.

Reid and Ripon Fire Department Captain Marty Corllilsen collaborated on planning the training program, after attending a similar one together. With the classroom training at Ripon and hands on activities in Escalon, more than 50 students took part in all.

"Randy and I took the class about five months ago in Clovis," said Cornilsen. "We were able to bring the instructors here."

Fire, departments ranging from Clements and Lodi, Manteca and Turlock, Sacramento and East Contra Costa County all sent firefighters to Escalon for the training.  "We had three pits on Wednesday and that was more for demonstrating the tools and the, techniques, showing the stabilization system and how it works, explained Reid.  "Thursday, they got to use them and put them into real scenarios."    
Dave Anderson of the Pacific North Division of L.N. Curtis was on hand for the training program and said the firm is happy to work with local departments. "Our territory covers 18 Western states including the Pacific and military bases in Europe,"  he said. "Our goal is teaching them to properly and safely use our safety equipment.  Any product we sell, we service and teach how to use it."

Anderson" said the Escalon­Ripon training was a success in both its numbers and the amount of training provided in a short amount of time. Mello was also pleased. "Marty and Randy put in a huge amount of time to get ready for this and we had excellent support from a lot of local businesses," Mello said.

Quality Rock donated the loader that Reid used, to place the vehicles in the various scenarios, while. all the vehicles came from Escalon Tow and McDowell & Davis Towing. "It's been outstanding," Mello said of the training program.

With a vehicle wedged under this overturned bus, crews first had to jack up the bus with wooden slats, then work to free the people trapped in the car. All the scenarios were done with vehicles only; no ' victims ' were used as part of the drills.
Fire Crews Rip Into Training Class
Grouped around an overturned vehicle, firefighters get some detailed instructions regarding use of stabilization tools before they start the task of rescuing the injured victims in the vehicle.
One car is overturned, wedged on top of a freeway divider and another is overturned beside it as rescuers survey the scene and get ready to cut away parts of the cars to reach the trapped parties.

Photos and story by Marg Jackson

Courtesy of Escalon Times

October 10,2007