The Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire recently hosted a two-day elevator rescue class for fire companies across the county.
“This ended up being a community undertaking,” said Dave Crawford, volunteer chief at Earleigh Heights.
First responders from Jones Station, Lake Shore, Riviera Beach, Odenton, West Annapolis and Severn fire stations participated in the specialized training, taught by Clark Fire and Safety of Mount Joy, Pennsylvania.
“Elevators work so smoothly and safely, most people don’t see how complex they are,” said Craig Blake, an Earleigh Heights volunteer captain who organized the training. “They have a lot of safety features. Some are designed to prevent operations the fire department may need to perform during a rescue.
“For example, normally an elevator won’t let the doors open when the car is in between floors. But that might be exactly what we need to do to get someone out.”
Responders learned rescue techniques using elevators at Anne Arundel Community College.
“We practiced everything from an elevator stuck a few feet above a lobby to much more complex situations where the occupants need to exit through the elevator car’s roof hatch,” Blake said.
Crawford added that, “We appreciate the Anne Arundel Community College allowing our class of 50 firefighters and paramedics to use their elevators for training. This was a fantastic opportunity to learn using real-world equipment and to practice with neighboring crews we respond with.”
The class consisted of two 10-hour days with both classroom and practical training.
“It was challenging bringing this expert trainer here. He has limited availability and we had a schedule conflict at our fire hall,” Crawford explained. “The Severna Park Knights of Columbus stepped up and allowed us to use their facility for the classroom portion the first day.”
Earleigh Heights volunteer firefighter Rob Gustafson learned a lot from the rescue class.
“It was interesting and also a little scary,” he said, referring to descending into the elevator shaft and working on top of the elevator car. “Learning new skills, being challenged, and working with colleagues for two days - it was a fun weekend.”
Information on the fire company, including volunteer opportunities, can be found at www.ehvfc.org.
“We’re committed to our communities and partner agencies,” Crawford said. “That’s why we have one of the most advanced heavy rescue squads and seek out the newest training techniques.”