Stanford Fire Department develops rope rescue team

Published 7:21 pm Thursday, August 10, 2017

STANFORD – An emergency situation can occur just about anywhere – on the roof of a building or at the bottom of a ravine – which is why the Stanford Fire Department is continuing to develop it’s Technical Rope Rescue team – to reach anyone, anywhere. 

“The need for special operations in this county is a must,” said SFD Assistant Fire Chief Brian Jenkins. “This has been a long time coming.” 

Jenkins, who helps teach the fire department’s Technical Rope Rescue Team training, said the team is one more joint operation with Lincoln County Emergency Management that helps complete the county’s overall special operations response. 

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According to Fire Chief Scott Maples, the fire department has teamed up with the local Emergency Management Agency to develop a response for hazmat and water rescue situations. 

“This is a joint venture, too, but we have all the equipment,” Maples said. 

The Technical Rope Rescue team, when ready, will also be available for deployment across the state. 

Jenkins said Stanford’s technical rescue team will likely be ready to respond in a year. 

“For rope rescue, you really have to be on your game,” he said. “It’s not something you can read on the weekend and totally understand.” 

Rope rescue can play a role in many different emergency situations, Jenkins said. 

“For instance, we have the high school in our district now, the courthouse and all the renovations being done downtown…if you get a worker up there who has a heart attack, how are we going to get him down safely? It’s a way to where we can get up there, package him in a stokes basket and safely lower him down,” he said. 

The team has trained in several areas across the county from rock ledges to tall buildings. 

“There is a little bit of lecture in the classroom for terminology, just to get an understanding of rope rescue world,” Jenkins said. 

Confidence is key, he said. 

“You have to think, you’re on the end of a rope,” Jenkins said. “Getting confident enough that you know your knots and can do your mechanical vantages and the rigging part – once you’ve got all that down, the confidence should be (there).” 

That’s why safety is over-emphasized throughout the training, he added. 

Along with ropes and equipment, the fire department also has a drone on hand that can fly a three-mile radius, according to the fire chief. 

“We can fly down ravines or fly up to the top of buildings and see what we have and size up the situation,” he said. “This gives you a bird’s-eye view.”

Maples said the fire department already has several highly-trained people experienced with rope and the training will only add to that as the team develops. 

“This will be a highly-trained, highly-disciplined group of individuals because rope rescue is very technical,” said Fire Chief Scott Maples. 

Maples said he appreciates Lincoln County Emergency Management’s partnership in special operations and the new addition of technical rope rescue for search and rescue operations. 

The Technical Rope Rescue Team will also have paramedics and medically-trained people who can perform emergency care if needed, he added. 

“That’s another part of it. Not only are they rope technicians but they’re paramedics and EMTs,” Maples said.