Firefighters save local dummy
December 12, 2012
By Michele Mihalovich
Eastside Fire & Rescue firefighters had good reason Dec. 7 to call the man dangling upside down from a rope over the swollen Snoqualmie River a dummy.
He celebrated Washington’s new law that allows recreational use of marijuana by making a homemade bungee cord, tied it to the suspension bridge over the river at Tolt-MacDonald Park in Carnation, and jumped. But he apparently hadn’t thought about how he was going to get back on the bridge after the jump.
And there he dangled.
But in all fairness to the man waiting for firefighters to rescue him, he literally was a dummy, a mannequin used for training exercises.
EFR Lieutenant Ben Hudson, stationed in Carnation, served as lead instructor for the three-day firefighters’ drills.
He came up with the above rescue scenario, but the training the firefighters practiced that day could have worked for many situations, like an 8-year-old kid trapped on a rope swing over a body of water, he said.
Hudson said firefighters often train for “low-frequency but high-risk” situations.
“Those situations don’t happen often, but we have to be ready for when they do,” he said.
For three days, firefighters conducted rescue training exercises that included swift-water rescue using a new motor boat and an inflatable raft, trench-collapse training, confined space training and rope training.
The finale of the three-day training familiarized firefighters with ropes used in rescue situations, lowering down to a victim, securing the victim with a harness and rescuing the victim from a dangerous situation. Thirteen firefighters showed up for the Dec. 7 rope training drill, but Paul McCall, stationed in downtown Issaquah, was selected to rescue the dummy.
Turns out, this wasn’t the first time McCall has been lowered high above a body of water. Years ago, his fellow firefighters lowered him over the Snoqualmie Falls to rescue a trapped hiker.
The quarterly training sessions are great refresher courses, he said.
Plus, it familiarizes them with the equipment and builds camaraderie and trust with the other firefighters, he said.
You’d be hard pressed to find a firefighter who doesn’t love his or her job, McCall said.