Approximately 110 firefighters joined the Round Rock Fire Department on Nov. 13-15 at Round Rock’s Public Safety Training Center for a large-scale training involving mock large-vehicle rescues.
Firefighters and police officers from across the country—as well as a few from Colombia—attended the training, which featured five stations simulating accidents involving large vehicles such as 18-wheelers, buses and concrete trucks. First responders were able to practice using tools and techniques to lift the large vehicles and rescue mannequins in place of victims trapped inside of the vehicles.
The $29 million Public Safety Training Center was funded by the voter-approved 2013 bond election. Since the center opened in September, Round Rock will now be able to host both classroom and hands-on training sessions for local first responders as well as those from other departments. Previously the large-vehicle training was only offered in California.
“This class has been on the West Coast for the last ten years,” Round Rock firefighter Wayne Pietzsch said. “We’re going to make it bigger and better every year, and we’re going to make it our own.”
Jordan Wenner with the Lone Star Global Rescue Development Network worked with the Round Rock Fire Department to organize the training. Wenner said he has been training firefighters for 30 years and this training helps prepare them for situations they may not encounter every day.
“These guys respond to extremely dangerous situations to help people they don’t even know,” Wenner said. “They step forward when others step back.”
Wenner said both private and public organizations helped with the event. A-Excellence Towing and Recovery, based in Georgetown, moved all of the vehicles to the training center and had tow trucks participating in some of the exercises, Wenner said.
Most of the stations were designed to give first responders experience in stabilizing large vehicles to “stop the crush” on smaller vehicles, Wenner said. Participants used a variety of tools to stabilize and lift the large vehicles before practicing retrieving victims from the smaller vehicles.
“All of these types of vehicles run up and down I-35 and our roads every day, and the more familiar these guys are with the tools, the more they benefit,” Pietzsch said. “If any accident ever were to happen, we are that much faster. When seconds count, this training is absolutely beneficial to everybody out here.”