Enfield fire gearing up for Extrication Challenge

Reporter Pat Healey offered up himself as a patient during live training exercise for Enfield team

Reporter Pat Healey is ready for the practice to begin. (Healey photo)

ENFIELD: Have you ever passed a motor vehicle collision and watched firefighters working away with wood? Tools? And smashing windows to get in to the trapped victim or victims?

Well, there will be plenty of that on display as 11 fire crews from New York; Ontario; and across the Maritimes converge on Enfield this week to test their extrication skills and technique they’ve learned and apply it on real scenes.

An extrication team members talks with the patient during the live training exercise for the Vehicle Rescue Challenge, set for this week Sept. 13-16 in Enfield. (Healey photo)

VIDEO: Reporter Pat Healey involved in crash

VIDEO: The team takes out the patient in scenario 2

PHOTOS: The extrication team in action

The teams will be competing to capture the title as the best auto extrication team at the North American Vehicle Extrication Rescue Challenge, being hosted by Enfield Fire’s extrication team next to Scott Blois Automotive.

I was was invited along to play patient during the first of three live training practices by the team on Sept. 11 as they geared up for the event, which residents are welcomed to come out and watch.

Reporter Pat Healy is all geared up for his time in the car as a patient. (Healey photo)

Before we begin, the team sets up the tool and staging area. As they do that, Anita Hamilton goes over terms and makes sure my helmet; mouth piece; and flashhood are on properly and nice and tight.

Then I’m given the thumbs up to come on over by the car from Jeff Goodwin, who was gracious enough to arrange this demonstration so I could get a feel and video of it for our website.

I get settled into the car and await word that the practice has begun. I have safety glasses on as well as gloves and forestry coveralls.

The team comes in, makes patient contact then medic John Allan Canning introduces who he is and asks me my name and how my car ended up under another car. I wasn’t quite sure, but somehow my left arm became lodged in between the seat and the drivers door, and it was causing me the most pain.

As other members of the team work on the car, making the car a convertible, Canning stays by me asking me various questions. The team then works on getting him inside the car quickly to assess me even more.

After being lifted in through the back passenger window, Canning talks to me about my medical history, what I’m allergic to, any pain I’m having and what number it’s at, as they get in soft protection so they can continue to work to get me out.

Eventually, they come over on the driver’s side and—after putting in hard protection—they start doing more cutting.

In the end, I am finally lifted out and am stretchered on the backboard away from the car. The whole exercise took just over 20 minutes; teams have a time limit of 20 minutes to get a patient out safely.

The team puts in some hard protection during the second scenario. (Healey photo)

Being inside gave me an idea of what it takes and how much this training is so special to have to be able to execute it quickly when minutes count to get a patient out.

Other members of the team include: Incident Commander Dave Dixon; Nine Mile River firefighter James Reid; and Shawn Hicks.

I encourage everyone to come out and watch the competition in Enfield. From attending the event in Carp, near Ottawa, Ont., with the team, I know you will be entertained and enthralled with the teams competing.

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Patrick Healey
Pat has grown up in East Hants, having called Milford, and now Enfield home. He graduated from the journalism program at Holland College in 2001, and has spent time at newspapers in NL and Alberton and Summerside, PEI before becoming a reporter/photographer at The Weekly Press/The Laker in October 2008. He has a rescue kitty named Asha that is much loved—and spoiled. Pat is also our "social engagement guru." Check him out on twitter!