At last night’s practice Duncan and Julian completely outdid themselves. They organized a school bus, a dozen or more volunteers from the community, props, makeup, and a smoke machine to build a very realistic scenario.
We arrived on scene to find the school bus billowing smoke, and 10 – 20 people banging on the windows and calling for help. Our triage team boarded the bus and in short order had all of the walking wounded out of the bus and started work on the 5 remaining injured. All 5 of those patients were packaged for their particular injuries and all came out on a spine board. We had the last of the seriously injured patients out of the bus about 70 minutes after we arrived on scene.
A scene like this calls on many skills:
There is the obvious medical care component in dealing with injured passengers. Last night we had a cardiac patient, a head injury, a fractured hip, and 2 spinal fractures, along with all the miscellaneous cuts, scraps, and minor breaks.
We called on our fire suppression skills with the simulated fire under the hood of the bus.
In getting the front of the bus open, we needed to use our extrication tools and know-how.
The incident commander needed to call on some extra logistic planning skills to deal with limited resources for so many patients.
It was a challenging practice, but I believe that we rose to it and I was thrilled with how we performed. While there were several things that we would do differently next time around, this practice made all of us feel confident that we are able to handle a situation like this if it were to happen here.
Thanks to Rubin, Zsofine, Scott, Olivier, Heron, Sascha, Juniper, Nico, Aarron, Gwynna, and Reina for taking an evening out of their lives and helping us hone our skills. Support like this from our community really helps us with our commitment to the department.
We’d like to single out and mention Duncan and Julian for all of the work that they did to set up this practice. Getting the bus, researching ins and outs of triage, all of the phone calls to organize the volunteers, and the time spent setting up the scene demonstrates an enormous dedication to the department and our training program.
On Sunday, March 6 at 1800 we received a general page for a fire on Little Trib beach. We arrived to find a soggy and barely smoldering fire all but extinguished. Further investigation revealed that the bonfire had extended to the dead grasses at the head of the beach, but that had also been extinguished.
As it turns out, a large fire had been left unattended at the head of the beach and in front of a local residence. Soledad and Breanna, two of our recent Cadet Camp graduates came across the fire on their way home and immediately realized the hazard. While one of them found a bucket the other called an adult and initiated a fire department response. Using skills that they learned in Cadet Camp, they safely and successfully knocked down the 1.5 -2 meter flames before the fire could extend to the brush between the beach and the houses.
HIFR would like to thank Breanna and Soledad for their sharp thinking and quick action in helping us deal with a potentially dangerous situation.
We are proud to announce that Ian “Embers” Emberton has graduated from rookie to a full fledged firefighter. After putting in two years of training, practices, and public service since joining our department, Embers embarked on the daunting 3-evening task of challenging the firefighter exam.
The exam consists of 2 evenings of practical evaluations including portable pump operation, search and rescue scenarios, fire extinguisher proficiency, smoke ventilation, and proving that he can find and operate pretty much every piece of equipment in the fire hall or on the trucks. A third night is then spent writing an in-house exam dealing with Hornby Island specific items like water tank capacities, pump outputs, and our operational procedures.
Embers has shown an incredible amount of dedication to the department by coming to all call-outs and never missing a practice when he is on island. He adds much to the culture of the department and is quick to volunteer for department tasks.
Congratulations, Ian. We’re all proud to have you.
Our training tells us that fire ground is a dynamic place. Conditions change so we adjust our tactics to suit. Road conditions on Thurday night’s practice enforced that by having us scrambling to adjust our plans.
Initially we were to do a structural fire scenario at the recycling depot. At the time of practice the road to the depot still hadn’t been plowed. Although we could have safely gotten the trucks up the hill, we were concerned about getting them back down. In the event of an actual fire we would have gone, but it seemed unwise to risk close to a million dollars worth of equipment for the sake of a practice.
The firehall benefited from this change as we put the firefighters to work taking care of the chores that had been stacking up lately. We were able to make it an early night and will return to tackle the depot scenario another day.
We don’t get very many car fires here on Hornby. In fact there hasn’t been one since I joined the department. Despite their infrequent occurance, extinguishing them safely is a skill that we like to keep up on. To that end we have constructed a prop which is a stripped minivan that we can pack full of wooden pallets and set on fire.
Newer cars present many challenges for fire suppression:
Bumper struts can explode shooting a bumper into a firefighter’s knees.
Air bags can explode with shrapnel.
Hatchback struts can explode and shoot a metal rod like a crossbow bolt.
Newer cars have plastic fuel tanks which can drop off of the car and melt releasing gasoline onto the ground.
Working in teams of three, firefighters approach the vehicle from the side or corner dumping as much cooling water onto the flames and under the car as possible. When they get close they open the nozzle pattern to a fog to protect them from the heat of the fire. Once at the car, the nozzle pattern gets narrowed again to fit through the window and extinguish the fire.
Our new training officer, Sasha LeBaron has been cracking the whip to get our members to advance their training. Last Thursday saw a flurry of exams.
Ian Emberton continued his in-house firefighter exam. All that remains is his written exam and he can remove the rookie designation from his helmet.
Doug Chinnery wrote and passed his module 6 written exam dealing with salvage and overhaul operations on the fire scene.
Patrick Lui completed his module 2 practical exam where he demonstrated textbook fire extinguisher technique and masterful donning on turnout gear and breathing apparatus.
Dave Hanna wrote his module 7 exam, the topic being sprinkler systems, public education, and fire prevention.
David Cloud wrote both module 6 and his hazmat awareness exam.
Each of last few months has seen several people advancing their training by writing exams and completing practical evaluations. This is good news for the individual, for the department, and for the community at large. Thanks to Sasha for driving this process, Duncan and Giff for administering the exams, and for all the firefighters who are spending even more of their spare time to better themselves and the department.