11/05/04 — Goldsboro trains for trench rescues

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Goldsboro trains for trench rescues

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on November 5, 2004 1:58 PM

Goldsboro fire and rescue personnel are ready and willing to work in the trenches.

Over the last month, all members of the department attended training on rescuing victims from collapsed trenches. The department has also formed a committee to study the best shoring and hauling systems to purchase.

A successful rescue from a collapsed trench in 2003 prompted the training.

"They worked with the equipment they had. They did what they had to do, but they weren't completely in a safe environment," Assistant Fire Chief Lisa Johnson said.

Ms. Johnson called the training the first phase, the awareness level, and said more sessions are planned in the coming months.

"This was basic. They are going to go on and get more advanced," said James Farfour, fire training coordinator for Wayne Community College. By the end of 2005, he said, the college will have provided 15 to 20 hours in each level of trench rescue.

Goldsboro Fire Lt. Don Collins is confident that the training has improved the firefighters' ability to respond to a trench collapse.

"We're ready," he said. "With what's involved, it will be touch and go.

"We're learning to crawl before we learn to walk. If it happens tomorrow, all three shifts have been through it."

Goldsboro's training was timely, said instructor Jason Dean, an urban search and rescue specialist.

"There is a big increase in this type of accident, because everything is going underground," he said.

Death for someone trapped in a collapsed trench is the result of asphyxiation and crushing. With a cubic foot of soil weighing 100 pounds, 18 inches equals 3,000 pounds on the body, he said.

"At 6 minutes, the brain starts dying," he said.

In the past, a victim in Goldsboro has had to wait for help from Clayton, the closest department with a trench rescue team.

In such a case, Dean said, "you're looking at recovery, not rescue."

Dean taught the firefighters the shoring and shielding method used most in trench and excavation rescues. The all-timber system, one of four types of shoring structures approved by OSHA, is constructed outside the trench, put in place and then braced.

The shoring assembly, which was provided by the college, will be kept for use on a real call until the department purchases another system, Ms. Johnson said.