Viewfinder: Firefighters train for unpredictable through course
Published 12:01 am Tuesday, October 7, 2014
NATCHEZ — Saving lives is always the No. 1 goal for members of the Natchez Fire Department.
But what do they do if the person they are trying to rescue is out of reach, across a gaping gorge or stuck in a ragging river?
The answer for the firefighters is easy — rope rescue.
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“We use a system of ropes and pulleys, and about seven or eight different knots to get them back here, or get us over there,” said Lt. Robert Arrington, one of the rope rescue trainers.
The firefighters train at a hollow concrete building in a field off Lower Woodville Road.
They start at the top of the building, and slowly lower a fellow firefighter to the ground across a 50-foot gap and then pull him back up.
“It gets you over your fear of heights really quick,” said firefighter Salah Cruel.
Cruel has been a firefighter for three months and has just been to two rope rescue-training sessions, but is familiar with a lot of the techniques because of the five-years he spent as a sergeant in the Army stationed at Ft. Hood Texas.
In Arrington’s 10 years as a firefighter, he has only used rope rescue twice, so the training is mostly precautionary.
“But the training has a large number of other uses,” Arrington said.
One such use is stressing the importance of always having a backup.
“Two is one, and one is none,” Arrington said. “In the fire service, during rescues you are putting stress on everything, so if one aspect of your equipment fails you always have a backup.”
Even though the training is not put into practice often, it is for this reason that Cruel thinks it is extremely important.
“It makes us better overall firefighters,” he said, “The training challenges us to think about every part of a rescue before we even start.”