This is just a drill! MarMac fire, rescue teams conduct extrication training
By Audrey Posten
Despite the broken glass and crumpled vehicles and the rescue squad and fire trucks gathered in its vicinity, the McGregor Municipal Utilities parking lot was not the scene of an accident Saturday morning. Rather, it was the scene of an extrication training exercise, giving the MarMac EMS and fire department the opportunity to practice removing accident victims from damaged vehicles.
For this training exercise, the rescue squad brought in two cars, which were donated by Bob’s Towing and Clayton County Recycling, and placed two volunteer victims in each vehicle. Before getting into the cars, each volunteer was taped up with fake injuries and painted with fake blood.
EMT Mike Gilman, who helped orchestrate the training, also cracked the windshields on each vehicle. Gilman said the state of the windshield often helps the EMTs understand what they are dealing with, along with the possible extent of injuries.
“[A cracked windshield] is one of the first things we look at when we arrive on scene,” Gilman explained. “That shows us if someone popped their head on the windshield. It’s also an indication if they were wearing a seat belt.”
After the prep work was complete, the four volunteers got into the vehicles. The rescue squad and fire department were then called to the scene.
The crew of rescue workers spent roughly an hour extricating all four individuals from the vehicles. The EMTs helped stabilize the victim volunteers and protect them from broken glass while the firefighters worked on prying open car doors in order to achieve better access. On one of the cars, the entire roof was even removed.
Gilman said the fire department usually cuts up at least one car each year, while the rescue squad does either a training exercise like this or a river rescue each year.
“[An exercise] of this extent takes a lot of planning,” Gilman said. “It’s not as easy to find cars to cut up as it used to be.”
While this training is helpful for some EMTs who have never dealt with the real-life situation, Gilman said the rescue squad is required to do so many continued training and education hours every two years in order to keep its certification.
Aside from training like this, Gilman said EMTs also have to do quarterly CPR, defibrillator and EpiPen training.
EMT Kayla Thompson, whose husband, Dillon, was one of the victim volunteers, said the number of actual extrications the EMS does each year varies and often depends on the weather, especially during the winter.
“There haven’t been too many extrications lately,” Thompson said, “but there have been quite a few accidents. On the Pikes Peak hill there were a few nasty ones.”
Since they only have one rig, Gilman said the EMS has mutual aid set up with Monona, Elkader and Tri-State EMS. The fire department’s fire and rescue truck also comes equipped with everything needed to handle scenarios like this.
Gilman said each EMT also has the authority to call in a MedLink helicopter if they believe aid is needed. When a victim has fallen from a height over 15 feet or if an extrication is taking longer than half an hour, Gilman said the helicopter is usually called.