Area firefighters learn skills to save lives with trench rescue - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Area firefighters learn skills to save lives with trench rescue training

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Firefighters from several area agencies spent 50 hours training this week on how to rescue a person from a collapsed trench.

On the last day of training, dozens of firefighters surrounded the training trench with on goal: safely and efficiently save the “victim” inside. But that is often easier said than done.

“There is nothing about trench rescue that is quick, fast or easy,” said Jefferson County Special Operations Training Chief Jeremy Urekew.

Urekew trained more than 30 firefighters this week on the rescue efforts. He said the first thing rescuers need to understand is the soil they're working with.

“If you're looking at the weight of soil, we're talking about a four-by-four cubic block of soil that's collapsed in the trench, (that) could weigh as much as a sedan,” Urekew said.

From there, it’s all about building an intricate protection system to shore up the walls.

“A lot of would-be rescuers would enter a trench after it's collapsed, and a person's been trapped, and then a secondary collapse will happen and cause that person to be trapped as well,” Urekew said.

“We have to make sure that we're protected, so we have to shore up walls, make sure it doesn't collapse on us, and then we have to set up a pulley system,” firefighter JT Alexander said.

Next, the focus is the victim who may even need treatment while crews are still digging them out.

“Whether that be from a medical emergency, being pinned by a piece of concrete or soil that's actually collapsed on the victim,” Urekew said.

Sometimes rescues take 20 minutes. Other times it takes much longer.

“Sometimes we're always fighting the clock,” Urekew said. “But it's a team effort. It truly is the epitome of a team effort.”

Officials said, on average, trench rescues happen a couple times a year.

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