Training to save lives

Firefighters from north Okaloosa County practiced vehicle rescue methods Oct. 24 at the Baker Fire District fire station.

BAKER, Fla., Oct. 27, 2020—The parking lot was littered with smashed cars and car parts, from bumpers to windshields to car doors to seats.

An old school bus, surrounded with bench seats and broken glass, had gaping holes where the sides had been peeled away like a banana.

In the grass and a ditch, vehicles were on their sides as if they had flipped during an accident.

This macabre scene of twisted steel set up at the Baker Fire District station was designed to train north county firefighters on stabilization, extraction and rescue methods.

About 50 north county firefighters converged there for a day of rescue training Oct. 24.

Holt sent seven firefighters to train alongside others from Almarante, Baker, Blackman, Crestview, North Okaloosa and Eglin Air Force Base.

There, everyone broke into teams with other fire units to learn and practice on different vehicle extraction and stabilization methods and to give firefighters a chance to work alongside people from other units.

Training was designed to get firefighters as much hands on experience with tools and actual cutting time as possible, said Edward Mosley, a Baker firefighter who designed the training for the day.

“We set up different methods of removing the vehicle from the patient to gain access to the patient as quickly as possible,” he said.

Glass shatters as a firefighter prepares to open the side of the school bus in a simulated rescue situation.

Getting to an accident victim quickly can mean the difference between life and death.

The time between the accident and arrival at the hospital is known as “the golden hour.”

Firefighters from north Okaloosa work together as they train on extraction techniques Oct. 24 in Baker.

“The faster we get in and rescue the patient, the better the patient will be,” said Mosley.

Holt Fire District has mutual aid agreements with other north Okaloosa fire units, as well as with Harold in Santa Rosa County. This means whenever a unit gets on site and sees a need for extra help, they can call on each other to assist.

Fire and rescue mutual aid agreements among north Okaloosa County fire units ensure backup assistance is there when it’s needed.

Holt Fire often responds to calls in the Baker district. And it’s not unusual to see a Harold fire vehicle respond to calls in Okaloosa County.

In July 2019, firefighters from Baker, Holt, North Okaloosa, Crestview and Eglin AFB responded to fight the fire at the Milligan Baptist Church after a lightning strike set the building ablaze.

Mosley would like to set up future training dates to bring everyone together maybe two times a year.

“It’s good to work together,” Mosley said about the training. “This way we have the same basic understanding of what to do.”

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