Local fire departments train to hone many skills, not just firefighting. There are countless other duties that fall onto firefighters, such as search and rescue, vehicle crashes, extrication, dealing with hazardous material spills, or just clearing roads from debris during a storm.
Rescue training has been a hallmark for most fire companies in Lincoln County for a long time. One skill set that was in short supply was technical rope rescue skills and equipment. This style of rescue which utilizes ropes, harnesses and teams to access and remove patients from harm often lines up with the responsibility of a ladder company. Two departments with ladder companies teamed up in July, with the help of the Damariscotta-Newcastle Rotary Club, to offer a certification program for rope rescue technicians.
Approximately 20 firefighters from Damariscotta and Waldoboro came together to learn the knots, tools, and techniques for low-angle rescue, with plans to complete a high-angle component in the near future. Two nights of instruction and a weekend of performing rescue scenarios on the slopes of LincolnHealth’s Miles Campus earned the firefighters a technician level certificate.
“I am always impressed by the level of commitment of firefighters in our communities,” said Waldoboro Fire Chief Paul Smeltzer. “This course was no exception. Everyone’s lives are very busy, and these men and women not only gave up several evenings, but a midsummer weekend as well.”
The class was put on by Washington Fire Chief Phil Meunier, who was supported by Dave Sheppard. The two skilled instructors shared experience from previous training evolutions and real-world rescue scenarios. They challenged the class with finding different ways to accomplish the task and by finding clever ways of making equipment disappear to make students think on their feet.
The funding for the class was completely covered by a training grant from the Damariscotta-Newcastle Rotary. Objectives for the grant program include helping people of Lincoln County obtain skills or upgrade their skills by training or obtaining the tools necessary for career success. Additionally, the program is meant to help expand the county’s workforce, and increase available services for the people of Lincoln County.
“We are grateful for the Rotary Club for providing the funds necessary to put this class on. The skills learned during this instruction will help our firefighters respond to emergencies with new skills, allowing certain rescues to be carried out in a manner that is safer for the patients as well as the emergency responders,” said Damariscotta Fire Chief John Roberts. “Local partnerships like this between the Rotary and our two departments make this community special and a great place to live in and serve.”
This is not the only aid that the Rotary Club has offered to first responders this year. The club also funded a class for eight volunteers on critical incident stress debriefing and management. This training is to help first responders in the community deal with processing responses to traumatic incidents.
To make a donation to the program or apply for a grant, go to dnmrotary.org.