Firefighters train for underground rescues

23 Jun 2005 | Lance Cpl. Drew W. Barker

Firefighters from around Camp Lejeune began a trench-rescue training program at Fire Protection Division’s training building June 23.

“Last year there were more than 100 emergency situations involving collapsed trenches,” said Bobby Doberstein, instructor, Triple C Fire and Rescue Training Services. “You don’t think of it as a serious problem because it doesn’t happen that often, but when it does, it can be very dangerous.”

The goal of this training is to prepare potential rescuers to safely assess and mitigate site hazards, organize and implement a rescue effort and effectively extricate victims as quickly and efficiently as possible, according to the Emergency Response Training Institute’s Web site,

The training is comprised of eight hours of classroom training and eight hours of practical application in a simulated trench-rescue situation.

The classroom portion, which is what the firefighters took part in June 23 and 24, includes the use of computerized slide show presentations, videos and lectured instruction from an experienced trainer, according to Capt. Deborah Maston, captain paramedic, Station 3, Fire Protection Division, Installation Security and Safety Department, Marine Corps Base.

“There is a lot of information being presented in theses classes,” said Maston. “It helps to have an instructor that really knows the material, who can convey the important concepts and ideas.”

The firefighters who have completed the classroom segment of the rescue training move on to the hands-on portion, where they apply what they’ve learned during a response to a simulated trench collapse. This part of the training program will take place in late September or early October, according to Chief Gregory Hines, training chief, Fire Protection Division, Installation Security and Safety Department, MCB.

Although there is a low number of incidents that require a trench rescue, it is one of the most potentially challenging and multi-discipline occurrences fire service personnel may face, according to ERTI.

“This is a very important skill for our firefighters to have,” said Maston. “It will only make us better prepared to respond to any emergency situation that we may be presented with.”