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Fire Ops 101 Offers Reality Of Firefighting And Rescue Work

Maumee city administrator John Jezak (left) receives instructions from Fire Prevention Bureau Chief Jim Dusseau. MIRROR PHOTO BY NANCY GAGNET

BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — For most folks, the act of entering a dark, hot, smoke-filled building for a search-and-rescue mission with little to guide you except heightened senses and an adrenalin rush isn’t exactly part of a typical workday. But in the life of a firefighter or rescue worker, it is. Last week, the Fire Ops 101 course at Owens Community College provided members of the media, city leaders and politicians a firsthand account of the type of work and training in which they regularly take part. “It’s all about perspective, and it’s tremendously important,” said Maumee Fire Chief Brandon Loboschefski. Approximately 40 participants attended the event, which included five carefully controlled scenarios. “A lot of these situations are very low frequency events, especially for the smaller fire departments, but we have to be prepared for anything to happen at any minute,” Loboschefski said. Participants took part in a Rapid Intervention Team or RIT exercise to rescue a down firefighter. Maumee firefighter P.J. Fournier said it’s a situation they hope never happens. Tools such as a thermal imaging camera help firefighters see through the smoke. “Nine times out of 10, it’s a disoriented firefighter or somebody who is out of air and can’t get out. It’s one of those things where you’re setting up for the worst-case scenario. It’s something that you never want to use, but it’s something you’ve got to have.” Participants also had to come to the aid of someone in need of CPR, participate in a search-and-rescue situation, enter a burning building and help perform an extrication in a vehicle accident. It’s the second time council member Brent Buehrer has taken part in such rescue training. He previously took part in a state program 18 years ago. “You could see the improvement in some of the equipment and the advancement in their training,” he said. “I’ve always thought it to be important to equip our fire department well, particularly with it being a pay-per-run department. You’ve got to give the fire department the best equipment with the best training to put them a position for success.” Council member Tracey Elmore, Law Director Beth Tischler and city administrator John Jezak also attended the training, along with Denny McCarthy from The Mirror Newspaper. “It was harder to breathe with that mask on and all that equipment,” McCarthy said. “It’s a lot more strenuous than you would think.” Jezak said the training was both physically and mentally demanding, but exciting, too. It also offered a new appreciation for the work that rescue workers do. “Many elected officials and senior administration deal with public safety issues from a budgeting or planning perspective and don’t often experience line functions,” he said. “The exercise gave us all a much better appreciation of the challenges facing first responders in carrying out their duties. The biggest takeaway for me is the necessity of working as a team when dealing with matters of public safety. This was a great teambuilding exercise, bonding first responders with elected officials and upper management and our safety personnel with those in Northwest Ohio’s other localities.” Members of the Maumee department joined firefighters from other departments, including Toledo, the city of Perrysburg, Springfield Township and Sylvania Township. The methodical, repetitious training is key to firefighting, said Adam Bevier of the Toledo Fire Department. “When you go into a fire, it’s rare if you walk in and you can see anything. It’s truly a feeling thing, and you just have to get used to that and train for that,” he said. Maumee firefighter Jeremy Chesser believes that going into a dangerous situation is simply part of the job. “We try to preserve life, that’s our ultimate goal, our own and the people we are looking for. So when we go into a building like this or we go into a situation where somebody is trapped or somebody is inside and they haven’t gotten out, that’s the unfortunate but necessary danger that we subject ourselves to,” he said. Bevier agreed. “You risk a lot to save a lot. That’s what your job is, that’s why you’re a firefighter,” he said.

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