Rescue crews tested at state EMT competition

August 15, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

RANSON, W.Va. - Whether it's venturing into raging white water to rescue a stranded boater or plucking someone from dizzying heights, firefighters never know what they will experience when responding to calls.

"The one thing we emphasize a lot is there is no routine call," said Ed Smith, chief of Independent Fire Co. in Jefferson County, W.Va.

Such was the case during the 30th annual West Virginia EMS/Firefighter competition in Jefferson County over the weekend. At least 160 firefighters and their families from across the state and the Eastern Panhandle came to the event to see who is tops in the rescue business.


Teams from various rescue squads competed in handling emergency scenarios and were judged on how they completed their tasks.

Things got under way Sunday morning when rescue teams had to determine the best way to rescue two teenagers from the top of a water tower off Preston Street in Ranson.

When members of the Jan-Care Ambulance crew rolled up in their rescue vehicle, the mother of the boys was yelling at them to come down.

"You better start listening," the woman said.

"I'm not listening to you," one of the boys responded.

The scenario centered around a domestic dispute between the woman and her husband.

The boys became upset over the argument and scaled the water tower, which is about 70 feet tall.

Jan-Care Ambulance crew members, who are based in Raleigh County, W.Va., leapt out of the back of their truck.

Clasps and other climbing equipment dangled from their belts as the crew members assessed the situation.

"Let's go, we got to go," one of them called out.

They began climbing the water tower not knowing what was about to occur.

A short period later, the woman's husband dashed onto the scene and shot her. The woman fell into the grass and one of the rescue workers wrestled with the assailant to apprehend him.

Now the rescue teams had two emergencies: the stuck kids and a gunshot victim.

It was a different experience for Kenneth Willis, a member of the structural rescue team for Jan-Care Ambulance.

Jan-Care Ambulance serves about a dozen counties in the southern part of the state, and many of its calls are in rural areas such as the New River Gorge, where they rescue hikers and rock climbers from cliffs.

"We're not used to towers," said Willis, whose team was competing against another one from The Community and Technical College of Shepherd.

After the water tower rescue, the focus turned to a simulated scene at AB&C Group off Executive Way, where a man and his son were bitten by a snake at a church gathering. The situation was complicated when a methamphetamine lab next door exploded.

Mike Schweitzer, who has been a firefighter with the Independent Fire Co. in Ranson for eight months, got a taste during one of the competitions over the weekend of what it is like to go into a burning building.

Simulated smoke was pumped into a building along Leetown Pike and Schweitzer and his team had to search to make sure no one was inside.

"It was amazing. It was like the real thing," Schweitzer said.

The competition came to a close Sunday afternoon and winners were expected to be announced during a dinner Sunday night at Charles Town Races & Slots.

Top crews

The following teams and individuals from the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia won awards during the West Virginia EMS/Firefighter competition:

Photography rescue: Christine Holmes, Independent Fire Co.

CPR/Driving: CTC Shepherd EMT, third place; driver, Kenny Barrett, CTC Shepherd.

Combat challenge: Independent Fire Co., first place; Chris Foreback, Independent, outstanding individual.

Firefighter: Independent Fire Co., second place; IFC4, third place; Steve Hodge, IFC4, outstanding individual.

Structural rescue: CTC Shepherd, second place; CTC Shepherd team, outstanding individual.

EMT: CTC Shepherd EMT, second place.

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