Local fire department practices saving lives

Local volunteer firefighters gathered at the Hettinger Fire Hall last week to hone their lifesaving skills. In a routine training, firefighters practiced auto extrication exercises by tearing apart old junker cars in the parking lot.

Frank Turner

Fire Chief Terry Lien said that the local department organized the training to recertify their department in auto extrication while giving a few new recruits a chance to practice. Although the auto extrication certification is not a requirement for the local fire department, Lien said the certification becomes “just another tool in the toolbox.”
“We do help people with accidents on highway 22 and 8 and wherever,” said Lien. “That way we know what to do if an accident ever happens.”
To practice auto extrication, the department brought in a certified instructor from Bismarck. According to Lien, the instructor demonstrated how to use life saving tools like the Jaws of Life to remove people from the twisted metal. Lien said that fireman rely on auto extrication for severe automobile accidents, such as rollovers, head-on collisions, and T-bones.
“The safest way to get a patient out of an accident is to cut the car apart,” said Lien. “Stuff gets mangled up in accidents to where a fireman can’t open up anything and someone might be trapped in there.”
After the demonstration and guided practice, the local department was put to the test. The guest instructor created a hypothetical car pileup scenario. In the scenario, firefighters had to rescue people from two crashed cars, assess the condition of the people in the vehicles, and remove the fake wounded from the crash while being timed. Lien said they completed the exercise in 22 minutes.
“It was not too bad,” said Lien. “The instructor said he was pretty impressed with the crew we have, as young as our new guys are.”
Ultimately, the local fire department was able to practice the auto extrications on real cars, because Robertson Recycling donates the broken-down vehicles. Lien said the department usually facilitates their trainings at Robertson Recycling, but due to muddy weather they moved the training to the Hettinger Fire Hall
“Robertson Recycling works with us a lot,” he said. “All I have to do is get a hold of them ahead of time, and they line up the cars.”
During this training, fire department didn’t work alongside local Emergency Medical Services, however Lien said that the department plans to incorporate them into trainings in the future.
“The next time we do a similar training, we are going to have EMS come in and do it with us,” said Lien. “A lot of times the EMTs have to be in the vehicle while we are cutting it apart to stabilize the patient.”
Already, Lien said the fire department is looking forward to their next training on Oct. 21, where firefighters will run through a grain bin rescue exercise.
“I think the training have gone rather well,” said Lien. “I think they did a nice job and worked together, and we had a nice time.”
Lien said that if people are interested in supporting the local fire department, they can visit the Fireman’s Ball on Nov. 29. The event will be hosted at Susie’s Woodfire Grill. Lien said to expect a deejay for entertainment, fire prevention related prizes, and a chance to meet the new firemen that joined the team.

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