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Firefighters undergo line rescue training 10 July 2008

Recovering stretcherTHE role of the modern day firefighter has evolved in recent years to embrace a number of specialist disciplines.

In addition to tackling fires in the home, workplace and countryside, the Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service undertakes a multitude of other tasks to ensure community safety. As part of their wide-ranging duties officers can be called upon to deal with line rescues, urban and hill searches and swift water rescue incidents. Training sessions are held throughout the year in order to keep firefighters’ skills and knowledge up to date.

Members of the Fire Service’s line rescue team assembled at Groudle Glen recently to take part in a series of exercises under the auspices of Outreach Rescue. The UK company delivers specialist firefighter training courses in conjunction with the Fire Service College in Moreton-in-Marsh and the Centre for Disaster Management at Coventry University.

Setting up line rescue rigTraining manager Tony Emsley put local officers through their paces – including a number of line rescue supervisors (Level Two practitioners) who were working towards their biennial re-accreditation. Line rescues are performed in a variety of emergency situations where access is restricted or beyond the reach of conventional firefighting equipment.

The techniques have been put into practice to rescue people from tower cranes, silos and industrial water tanks as well as road traffic accidents. The Groudle Glen training exercise involved recovering somebody who had slipped from the footpath and fallen down a ravine.

On arrival at the scene an initial assessment was undertaken in order to maximise the working area and identify suitable anchor points for the rescue lines. Firefighters then set about using the equipment and natural assets at their disposal to rig up a system that was most suited to the circumstances. This process involved strategic planning and mental arithmetic to calculate angles, hauling ratios and load-bearing capabilities.

Firefighters perform manual haulingGood communication was also a key factor between the teams tackling different aspects of the rescue. The Groudle training lift was executed in textbook fashion. The firefighter who had been lowered down with the recovery stretcher reported a smooth, safe and secure ascent back up the ravine.

Chief Fire Officer Brian Draper said:

‘We have had a dedicated line rescue team in place in the Island since 1995 and those skills have proved crucial in many emergency situations down the years.’

Minister for Home Affairs Martyn Quayle MHK added:

‘The hard work that goes into this type of specialist training is commendable and further underlines the Fire and Rescue Service’s ethos of education, prevention and protection.’

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