Rapid City firefighters hone rapid rescue skills - KOTA Territory News

Rapid City firefighters hone rapid rescue skills

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Firefighters check equipment before doing a rapid intervention rescue drill.  (photo by Jack Siebold) Firefighters check equipment before doing a rapid intervention rescue drill. (photo by Jack Siebold)
A rapid intervention team has to reach a downed firefighter in the dark, change out his oxygen bottle and get him out of danger.  (photo by Jack Siebold) A rapid intervention team has to reach a downed firefighter in the dark, change out his oxygen bottle and get him out of danger. (photo by Jack Siebold)
Firefighters are debriefed after their rescue exercise.  (photo by Jack Siebold) Firefighters are debriefed after their rescue exercise. (photo by Jack Siebold)

by Jack Siebold, MyTown editor

Rapid City's firefighters are used to having to rescue people, but what happens when the firefighter is down?

That's when a specialized crew, called a rapid intervention team, is called in.  "They exist to rescue other rescuers," firefighter Calen Maningas said.  "The RIT guys are put in place, fully prepared, ready to respond if a rescuer is in trouble."

"If we have firefighters trapped or we have firefighters injured and the access to them is not great, that could be a scenario that really proves to require a lot of additional firefighters and a lot of additional skill sets to rescue those guys," Maningas explained.

Those skills are taught to every Rapid City Fire Department firefighter, who at one time or another, ends up on a response team.  "Everyone needs to be trained in a rapid intervention team," Maningas said.  "Depending upon the incident, it could change as to which engine company responds, which engine company gets designated to be RIT so everyone on the whole department is trained up with the rapid intervention skill sets and knowledge."

Wednesday, between a flurry of real emergency calls, on-duty firefighters performed rapid intervention team drills.  In a pitch-black warehouse, the rescue team had to follow a downed firefighter's hose just to get to the victim.  Then they had to swap out the firefighter's oxygen supply and drag him out of danger.

As tedious as constant training on the same scenario can be, firefighters like Scott Jungck understand the method to the madness.  "Confidence comes with doing it over and over again, in training or the live thing.  The more you do it, the better you're going to be at it," Jungck said.

"Everything we do in the fire department is to save lives, so when we do this training; we take it very seriously because these are our brothers and sisters that are inside," Jungck said.  "If they're going to need help, we want to know exactly what to do, the steps we need to take."

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