Lawton firefighters train in the trenches

Lawton_Firefighters aren't only trained to extinguish fires and rescue people for burning buildings - they also come to the rescue when a trench collapses and someone becomes trapped.  Firefighters must also train for this sort of disaster.  The training takes hours, both in a classroom and in the trenches.

Lawton is growing, and with more houses and businesses under construction, it means that more trenches are being dug - for sewer lines, swimming pools, and gas lines.  If the trenches aren't properly reinforced, disasters such as a cave-ins can occur.

Firefighters train with fire trucks, fire helmets, and plenty of firefighting power at the training site, but one of their usual firefighting tools could not be found at this training.  "We don't have a single hose out today, other than some air hoses, we're kind of a jack of all trades," said Assistant Training Officer for the Lawton Fire Department Jared Williams.  He and his team spent 10 hours in the hot sun on Thursday, sawing, hammering, and reinforcing walls in a trench.

Jason Louthan, OSU Rescue Coordinator, says the training is vital.  "Proper training can cut several hours off an actual emergency."  Minimizing time spent during a trench rescue is important to a successful recovery.  "Time is critical most of the time in a trench collapse," says Louthan.  "It's really - to be honest - a body recover situation.  But there are instances where someone may just be injured in a trench, you know, a pipe could have just fallen on them and time is still critical."

The Lawton Fire Department is receiving new tool systems from the Department of Homeland Security that will assist in trench rescues.  Lieutenant Ross Troutman says that even though they aren't called to a lot of trench rescues, firefighters must be familiarized with the tools - before they're called.  "It's a little late when you get a call, and you're trying to figure out how to use your equipment," he says.  "So this is real good for all the guys that may have to be called out.  We've got all three shifts training on this so they'll be familiar with the systems."

Firefighter say that because of the summer heat, many people are building swimming pools.  They say that if you are digging, or are inside a pool trench, be sure to secure the walls properly.  They say it only takes a moment for thousands of pounds of rock and soil to cave in.  Lawton firefighters have been training since Monday, and will continue through the weekend.  They are training for multiple scenarios in four different trenches.