About a couple dozen Parker County volunteer firefighters pulled out the shovels and lumber Friday for a long weekend of trench rescue training.
The group of firefighters from various departments across the county, including Aledo, Greenwood, Brock-Dennis and ESD No. 6, are doing the learning now so they are prepared for the rare emergency when their skills are needed for a complex rescue operation.
Under instruction from a instructors from a South Carolina group, the volunteers used shovels, ropes and lumber, as well as specialized equipment, to gail practical experience in the dirt.
For at least 8 hours a day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the group trained for incidents like the July 2008 trench collapse in Hudson Oaks that left a man largely buried or the May 2011 incident south of Willow Park where a man became stuck in a clay trench in his yard.
Both were successfully rescued.
The typical trench rescue takes six to 12 hours, Emergency Response Team Wade West said.
Trench rescue is hard manual labor and can be complex, according to Fire Marshal Shawn Scott, who said that if they are at the scene some part of the trench has already been compromised.
“With the growth occurring, the utility work, the opportunity for these types of events increases,” Scott said. “When you need it, you have to be ready.”
The trench rescue class is the first of several training classes that firefighters will take this year as part of the Emergency Response Team, West said. Other topics to be addressed include swift water rescue, high angle rescue, and hazardous materials training.
All the approximately 26 volunteers have at least three to four years experience with a department and have been selected through an application process.
“We want a higher level of trained, experienced folks,” West said.
It’s not as glamorous or popular a specialization as the wildland taskforce that boasts about a 100 Parker County firefighters, Scott said. However, the team is the one called when they need to do a wide-area missing persons search, a confined space rescue or a