Crash course in saving lives

Daneka HillNorth West Telegraph
Liam Zencich has been a volunteer fire fighter for two years now
Camera IconLiam Zencich has been a volunteer fire fighter for two years now Credit: North West Telegraph/Daneka Hill

New volunteer firefighters were given the chance to cut open crashed cars last Tuesday night to practise the skills needed to retrieve trapped passengers from their vehicles.

South Hedland Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service Lieutenant Paul Hill said the training session with both South and Port Hedland fire services served the purpose of familiarising new recruits with the required tools.

“We are trying to get everyone to a standard so when they do the training they know exactly what they are doing,” he said.

The recent increase in recruits has been a boon for the volunteer-staffed fire brigades, which have been struggling for numbers in recent years.

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Mr Hill said the South Hedland VFRS was called out to more than 250 jobs a year.

“As a station we are very busy, and that’s just for call-outs, that’s not including community work,” he said.

“If we go back a few years, there was about 10 people and there was a lot of pressure on everyone to do everything.”

The station now has double the number of volunteers but is still keen to have more.

In the road crash rescue simulation, South Hedland and Port Hedland crews worked side by side on separate vehicles like they would on a real scene.

South Hedland VFRS practised retrieving a victim with a spinal injury while Port Hedland extracted a passenger suffering from a broken arm.

“We’re practising [a spinal injury] because we also want to use our spinal board which is the safest way to get someone out,” Mr Hill said.

South Hedland VFRS training co-ordinator Mike Jones said it was important recruits got hands-on experience with the equipment to pry cars open.

In time, the new recruits will complete Department of Fire and Emergency courses and be certified to attend crash scenes.

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