Trench Training

It's trench time for the Key West Fire Department's Urban Search and Rescue team. First responders are out near the Hawk Missile Site, learning to extricate an accident victim from a deep trench safely.

“This vital training for our department,” said Fire Chief Alan Averette, “but this also served double duty for Community Services. Their crews came out and dug these trenches. So both departments are benefiting.”

The USAR team is equipped and ready for just about anything imaginable -- and sometimes the unimaginable.  The USAR team is an advanced rescue team trained and equipped to respond countywide to structural collapses, incidents in which victims are trapped, or in which there is a threat to the safety of first responders.

The training session is about USAR-certifying new firefighters and paramedics for the team.  National Rescue Consultants are conducting the training.

The USAR team has rescued people trapped in buildings after hurricanes. Several years ago, they retrieved two victims in a construction collapse at Key West International Airport.  They saved a man crushed under tons of concrete when a cistern cover collapsed.

The team is often called upon to remove medical patients who cannot be transported by normal means, whether because they're in a loft or too large to be carried through a small doorway.  Special equipment and expertise are sometimes called upon to enhance vehicle extractions after an accident.

Trench TrainingTrench Training 2

In the photos: While colleagues shore up the walls of the trench, trainees descend a ladder to the spot where a dummy victim lies awaiting rescue.