Over the last few weeks we have all been witness to the demolition of the old Mother Teresa School, this grand old building which housed two schools in its lifetime did not teach its last class in June just prior to the summer vacation. On July 13th and 14th the Russell Fire Department had the privilege to use the building for some practical and live-fire training. The department has had the opportunity to do this type of training many times in the past, but always in houses, never in an institutional type building like a school. As mentioned the training session took place over two nights and many different scenarios were set up, all in the utmost of secrecy so the trainees didn’t know what to expect. The timing of this training and the availability of the old Mother Teresa School couldn’t have come at a better time. The Russell Fire Department just recently received new SCBA packs (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) and having the opportunity to use them in live fire training was a fantastic opportunity to familiarize the crews with the new equipment.
One other piece of apparatus that was purchased with the new air packs was a RIT Pack (Rapid Intervention Team) and the training session put on by Captain Brian Murray was both informative and possibly life saving. The “RIT Pack” is a piece of equipment used by a rescue team that is established on the fire scene, the team’s primary responsibility is to be on stand-by to rescue a fallen or trapped firefighter. The RIT Pack allows the team to bring air to the downed firefighter, something the Russell Fire Department was not able to do until now. Despite what Hollywood shows in the movies, firefighters are trained not to remove their masks for any situation, which includes sharing their air with a victim or a fallen comrade. One of the most feared situations any firefighter can face is being trapped in a partial collapse, your life is at the mercy of your air supply; once it runs out you’re done. Most firefighters can obtain approximately 20 minutes of air from a single tank, however this time is often diminished if the situation is stressful as the body will demand more oxygen. The RIT Kit could potentially save a life in this situation and is a welcome addition to the safety equipment of the Russell Fire Department.
The officers and firefighters of the Russell Fire Department would like to thank the Catholic School Board of Eastern Ontario, the administration of Mother Teresa Catholic School and Macdonald Brothers Construction for making this training session possible. I guess now we can say “school’s out for summer”.
Published August 5, 2009 in The Russell Villager