Responders Train to Handle a Different Kind of Situation

Firefighters need to be trained to respond to several situations. As well as the responsibility to put out fires, responders have to be equipped to handle rescue scenarios. So when the Merrill Fire Department got a chance to partner with Wisconsin Public Service and participate in a confined space rescue drill at the Merrill Hydro Plant on Tuesday, they wasted no time getting involved.

"It's an opportunity for the men to actually train in a place where a possibility of an incident can happen," Merrill Fire Department Chief Dave Savone said. "It gives us real life expectations that we don't know what the situation is until we pull up to the scene."

Responders used a confined area about 20 feet deep under the hydro plant. The drill involved lowering a responder into the space to rescue a person acting as a victim, and then safely bringing that person out of the space.

"We try to look for as realistic training as we possibly can get, and this was incredibly realistic as far as the opportunity we got from WPS to work with them," Merrill Fire Department Training Captain Michael Drury said.

Chief Savone says this drill is a reminder that fire departments do much more than simply extinguish fires.

"We're an all hazards department," Savone said. "Which means that not only do we respond to fire and EMS incidents, but we also have confined space, river rescue, and other things of that nature."

Responders hope they're never called to rescue situations. But if they are, drills like this will leave them better prepared to handle them.

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