Firefighters involved in more than fighting fires

Morinville firefighters take part ina vehicle extrication exercise at the Morinville Town Yard Sept. 29.

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Story and Photos By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – It’s a typical Wednesday night at the Morinville Fire Department. The trucks and gear are polished and ready for inspection. But inside the fire station Morinville’s firefighters are learning about some new gear that can help them save lives.

The Department recently acquired a new Rescue 42 strut suspension system; a set of tools that Senior Training officer Brad Boddez said would allow the firefighters to stabilize vehicles during vehicle extrications, whether those vehicles are on their side, roof or sitting on all four wheels. The TeleCrib strut system allows firefighters to brace a vehicle using the geometry of an isosceles triangle. The stability allows firefighters and other rescue workers to work on the vehicle and remove patients from inside while preventing the probability of injuries to the trapped and those seeking to free them from vehicles shifting or falling over.

Although people often think of firefighters battling flames with hose and axe, Boddez said vehicle extrications form a major portion of what Morinville firefighters do.

“Vehicle extrication is about 60 per cent of our calls,” Boddez said. “We respond to a lot of motor vehicle accidents on the highways in our areas. So that’s why, with winter right around the corner, we want to make sure our skills are sharp and our equipment is ready.”

Although the department had intended to brake out the new tools to give firefighters a hands-on experience with them during their Sept. 29 training session, the proximity of the practice vehicles to one another and the further loss of daylight prompted the firefighters to turn the evening’s training time into more practice with the department’s extrication tools.

For volunteer firefighter Phil Duguerre, who joined the department a little over two years ago, the training is key to enabling him and his fellow firefighters to do their job to help save lives.

“We do this kind of training – vehicle extrication – because we are in probably the hub of Sturgeon County,” Duguerre said. “We do see a lot of accidents and it’s important for us to do this kind of training because of the amount of road accidents. It’s such a high number. It’s important that we keep our skills and our knowledge up to date with new technology and new methods of training.”

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