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Lawton firefighters train for trench rescue

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LAWTON, Okla._Imagine the ground above you collapsing and trapping you under it. It's the scenario a construction worker faced at a site in west Lawton in 2008, until the fire department rescued him.

It's that same scenario that 28 Lawton firefighters trained for Thursday at the Great Plains Technology Center. Trenches were dug and the instructions began on how to recover victims who have become buried due to the ground collapsing.

Firefighters go through many kinds of training throughout the year. This one just happens to be one that they may not use often, but it may be the most important one day.

Jared Williams is the training officer for the fire department; he says the training they went through Thursday isn't just a normal emergency simulation, it's a real-world exercise.

"This is some of the best stuff they get. You know this isn't a controlled environment at all. They are digging live trenches today," said Williams.

They learned how to measure and build support walls for a 10 foot trench and how to reinforce those walls as they lowered a ladder to the bottom of the trench.

"Dirt, whenever you start looking at a cubic foot of dirt, it weighs 100 lbs. And if we have a person that has had the dirt collapse on them then the dirt is unstable. It has already collapsed once and it's important that our guys know how to go get them safely, not only for the victim they are going after, but also for themselves," explained Williams.

This kind of training is top notch and is also the first for many of these firefighters like Ryan Wells, who has been a firefighter for three and a half years.

"This is a really young department and getting to learn some new stuff with your friends and guys you are going to be working with for a long time, it's pretty neat," said Wells.

He says although the situation of collapsed ground is rare, the fire department has to be prepared. For the newer firefighters, further training in all kinds of emergencies only strengthens their belief that they can face anything and come out alive and on top.

"If guys are already getting this training now, and keep training throughout their career, we are going to be ready for anything," said Wells.

They had experts from the Oklahoma State University's Fire Service Training who led those 28 firefighters through the instruction. The firefighters going through the training said the instruction by the experts was priceless.

The next training lined up for the firefighters is in July where they will be training on how to rescue victims in confined spaces

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