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Lawton firefighters train for disaster relief

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LAWTON, Okla._ Dozens of Lawton firefighters are training this week on how to respond to large-scale disasters, such as bombings or tornadoes. They are also learning techniques for how to bring victims trapped inside collapsed structures to safety without putting their own lives in jeopardy.

In times of danger firefighters must rely on what they learned in training: "We don't have time to really stop and think things through,” says Jason Louthan, one of one of six instructors from OSU’s Fire Service Training program, who is helping guide 30 trainees through various grueling exercises.

The firefighters are learning how to use supplemental lumber to support a structure from caving, how to get to a person trapped under thousands of pounds of metal and how to search for victims through tunnels.

“If those walls come in around you, we are going to have to go in there and get you out somehow,” says Jared Williams, LFD training officer. “[We have to] make it stable from the outside, then we'll start sending our guys through tunneling to find those victims to be able to bring them out safely.”

Williams says 45 members of LFD were deployed to Moore last spring following the deadly tornado that ripped through that city. Williams hopes this structural collapse training will give firefighters the confidence in their skills and equipment to respond when and if a similar call comes in closer to home.

“Just to know that we have the ability to go out and protect the citizens of Lawton the best that we can,” says Williams.

Aside from the technical education, Williams says this training also serves as a team-building exercise. 

This training is paid for by the Department of Homeland Security. The LFD now has the third-most certified structural collapse search and rescue personnel in the state, behind Oklahoma City and Tulsa.


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