By PAUL POST
NORTHUMBERLAND — Preparation is the key to winning any battle, especially when it comes to saving lives.
Fire and rescue personnel spent Saturday morning training for an emergency they seldom encounter, but might have to one day — a logging accident.
More than two dozen Wilton and Schuylerville responders gathered at a 230-acre Saratoga County wooded lot on Gailor Lane, where classes are held regularly for BOCES forestry and conservation students.
“This is absolutely valuable,” Wilton firefighter Frank Merrill said. “There’s a lot we didn’t know. This could save somebody’s life if we’re in a situation like this.”
Participating agencies were Wilton Fire Department, Wilton EMS, Schuyler Hose Co., General Schuyler EMS, BOCES and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
The first drill involved extricating a person from beneath a fallen tree.
General Schuyler Chief of Operations Jaime Barton responded to the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center disaster. Some of the same rescue techniques used there are needed to help a woodlands accident victim, he said.
For example, to free a person pinned beneath a tree, firefighters use blocks to stabilize the log. Then, high-pressure air pillows are placed beneath it. When they’re inflated, the tree is raised just enough for rescue personnel to pull the person out and begin resuscitation efforts, if needed.
Barton said several people in Edinburg and Corinth have died from such accidents in recent years.
Like most emergencies, time is a critical factor.“You should never go in the woods alone,” Barton said. “Plus, people should always make sure their family knows where they are. And go with the best cell phone carrier you can. Some places have no service, or it might change depending on the time of year. In the summer, foliage might affect the service you get.”
Saturday’s drill was prompted by an incident last fall in which a BOCES student suffered a finger injury while working in the lot off Homestead Road. Fortunately, it wasn’t serious.
Before then, however, some rescue personnel had never been to the site, which has public walking trails. Now, in addition to learning a new skill, they’re more familiar with the property and how to get there.
“We’re drilling for situations we may encounter here and to know the land a little better,” said Dave Ballestero, assistant Wilton fire chief.
Several BOCES students also took part and learned what they should do if there’s an accident and fire and rescue personnel are on their way.
“They can be making wedges (used during extrication) and be out on the road to direct responders where to go when they get here,” BOCES Safety Coordinator Micki Jones said.
BOCES forestry student Cody Carpenter of Luzerne said he feels better knowing that local emergency personnel are better trained now.
“It’s getting them familiar so if anything happens, they know what they’re getting into,” he said.
Carpenter is also a Luzerne-Hadley firefighter and said he plans to suggest such training for his fire company as well.
“This extrication (training) is great because now we have interagency cooperation,” Barton said.
Article courtesy of Paul Post, Saratogian.com