Annual fire college provides crucial training

By DeeAnna Haney | Aug 28, 2014
Emergency workers treat a chemical suicide patient.

Haywood County emergency workers received invaluable training during the annual fire college last week.

This is the fifth year the Haywood County Fire Rescue Association has brought the Gaston College Regional Emergency Services Training Center to Haywood County, offering crucial training for local emergency workers. From school shootings to burning buildings, fire fighters, law enforcement and EMS workers from Haywood and other counties across the state gathered at Tuscola High School for the three-day training.

Tom Warwick, with the Haywood County Fire Rescue Association, said these types of hands on drills are the best type of training.

"When we get the chance to work together, we learn from our mistakes and learn what to do and what not to do," Warwick said.

Even local school teachers, staff and administrators attended the training to witness a re-enactment of a school shooting and a drill showing how emergency workers would respond to the scene.

During a subsequent drill outside, emergency workers dealt with the aftermath of the "shooting," involving the treatment and transport of victims.

Another drill trained emergency workers how to respond to a chemical suicide in a vehicle. Though it's not common, Haywood responders dealt with a chemical suicide in 2011 when a woman purposefully inhaled noxious fumes. Her body was found in a vehicle in Bethel.

Fire fighters also trained in a flashover simulator provided by the Gaston College training center. A flashover in a structure fire occurs when all of the objects in the room are heated to ignition point, causing the room to almost instantly become consumed with fire and smoke. The temperature in a room when flashover occurs can be more than 1,000 degrees.

Nowadays, fire fighters often make it to the scene of a fire before the flashover occurs, but it's important for them to know what to look for.

"In the simulator, they get to fell the heat and watch for the signs of a flashover," Warwick said.

Meanwhile, local fire department members and several from across the state attended any of the 27 classes that were held at the campus, some of which provided certifications. Over the course of the weekend, nearly 400 people attended the training.