Joint exercise allows firefighters to practice bus rescue

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 4, 2013

SALISBURY — On a cold Saturday evening, while others were snug in their homes, a group of firefighters and rescue workers were digging a blue Dodge from under a school bus.

This was not a real incident, it was just a training scenario. But those who participated in the all-day training hope if the time came to rescue children from a bus accident, they’ll be prepared.

South Salisbury Fire Department hosted the training event with Rowan County Rescue Squad that included Locke, Salisbury City, Rockwell Rural and Granite Quarry fire departments.

The group included more than 30 fire and rescuers who trained for various scenarios on the field in the middle of the Rowan fairgrounds.

The scenarios included working with a crew from Crawford’s Garage, located on Stokes Ferry Road, and Charlotte Fire Instructor Trey Smith.

The Rowan-Salisbury School System provided a surplus bus that rescuers could cut apart and turn on its side. The county also provided an old RITA van for the bus extrication training and ABC Towing provided the car.

“We don’t have a lot of opportunities to do this,” said Cory Orbison, chief of South Salisbury Fire Department.

The firefighters and rescue workers met Thursday for a class and then met on the field Saturday for more hands-on work.

Smith gave the firefighters instructions on what type of scenario they would be handling and he stood back and let them use the skills they’d learned.

In one scenario, the objective was to safely remove students from a bus that had been in a crash.

The “students” had to be extricated from the bus using the windows. In order to remove the students, firefighters and rescue personnel used power tools to cut open the side of the bus to create a larger opening.

“We do joint training, but we were very happy with all the different departments who sent members out. Today (Saturday) was exceptionally beneficial — the teamwork and the camaraderie to accomplish the goals that were set out by the instructor,” said Eddie Cress, chief of the Rowan County Rescue Squad.

Joel Crawford, owner of Crawford’s Garage, responds to large rescue and recovery incidents. The company sent a 60-ton Rotator, which was able to pick up the car and rotate it and wedge it under the bus so fire crews could work to remove it. The heavy-duty rotator tow was also able to lift the bus and turn it onto its side so the car could be placed underneath.

“We’ve been out before and helped them on rescues before. It gives us time so we can train with them,” Crawford said.