By Lance Cpl. Timothy Norris
Thirty firefighters from the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort Structural Fire Department and the surrounding area became certified to perform confined space rescues after a five-day-long course on the air station in April. The South Carolina Fire Academy provided the training and simulation equipment for the firefighters as part of their annual requirement to become confined space entry and rescue certified.
“It’s very helpful,” said Darran Vaughn, Air Station Fire Department assistant fire chief. “You have to have this training to make an entry into any confined space and make a rescue.
“[The ability to go into tight spaces] is critical to our mission on base. You can be called out at any time to make a confined space rescue.”
Visibility, fire, panicking victims, claustrophobia and harmful chemicals and gases are the variables playing against a close quarters rescue.
“This training gives my firefighters a level of confidence in the job they have to perform,” Vaughn said. “By doing this training, it gives them an understanding of ventilation, rigging, entry and teamwork for a confined space rescue.”
South Carolina Fire Academy instructors taught the laws and regulations the firefighters needed to know on the first two days of training. The rest of the course consisted of practical application sessions of methods and procedures for ventilation, ropes and knots, air monitoring and rescue rigging.
One theme echoed throughout every exercise is safety, said Bill Cantrell, South Carolina Fire Academy technical rescue instructor. “We go back to the National Fire Protection Association for technical rescue [standards].
“We follow these standards as close as possible,” Cantrell continued. “As rescuers, we want to go home to our families too.”