July 30, 2006
Some local Emergency Medical Technician students took it underground to practice rescuing someone from a pipe or vault. Members of the Charlottesville Albemarle Rescue Squad taught workers exactly how to retrieve someone from a confined space.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration may define what's considered a "confined space," but after a lesson by the Charlottesville Albemarle Rescue Squad Sunday, local EMT students know how to deal with a person stuck in one.
Students got to put their knowledge to the test when it comes to rescuing someone from a confined space. After being lectured on how accidents occur as well as what to expect during the actual process, rescue workers were out in the field to get some hands on experience.
"Its definitely different knowing what it's like to be in a controlled environment, when it's pipes that we can see on the outside and then crawling in there and not being able to see anything and it being pitch dark," explained Angel Zhang, EMT student.
The students went through an entire mock rescue making sure both communication and oxygen lines were kept open. If for some reason rescue workers lose their air supply they carry back up tanks that will give them an additional 10 minutes to get out of the hole.
They were even briefed on how to handle a victim on the verge of losing it.
"The hardest thing is the claustrophobia phenomenon that people go through and everybody is claustrophobic and the students learn how to deal with it and how to overcome that," Instructor Travis Karicofe said.
After the two-day course, students are certified in Confined Space Rescue; however, Angel hopes it will be a while before a real life situation arises.
"I think we know enough to start to be helpful, I don't know if we could take over exactly from just here on out, we'd probably need a little more practice I think," she said.
Instructors also said that typically they only respond to a confined space rescue once every six months, but even though they are low frequency, they are considered high risk and that's why this training course is so important.
The course is available to EMT students, firefighters, and members of rescue squads.