Members of the New Braunfels Fire Department didn’t know what to expect when they were called to Comal Iron and Metals last week.
Once we arrived, we found a simulated vehicle crash scenario designed to test our skills and immediately got to work.
Assistant Fire Chief Matt Bushnell said the majority of the fire department’s response was to EMS calls.
This is followed by minor vehicle accidents and fire alarms.
“But it’s those infrequent events that we want to train,” Bushnell said. “We try to find unique items to test us in all aspects of rescue before the real thing happens.”
A metal recycling center provided the department with training and the use of old vehicles.
The scene is complicated.
This is what first responders call underriding, where a large truck, bus, or 18-wheeler suddenly stops and a small vehicle drives under a larger one.
Not only that, but the “patient” in the car had a piece of metal stuck in his chest.
Their legs are caught under the steering column being crushed by the bus.
“There’s something called the golden hour in trauma, which means that the patient has to be taken to the final care, or trauma center, within an hour of the incident,” Bushnell said.
As soon as a 911 call comes in, first responders continue to race against time.
They need to figure out a way to get patients out of their cars while providing medical care on the ground.
The NBFD has previously responded to similar cases.
“The team is going to learn a little bit more complicated things about this battery-powered rescue device,” Bushnell said. “After going down a certain path, they may find that they need to adapt to their circumstances and change their plans if necessary.”
Our department conducts ongoing skill training using individualized tools and techniques.
But scenario-based training is another level of preparation, battalion commander Jeremy Van Orsdal said.
“We’re doing these randomly from a risky approach,” he said. “It could be a vehicle rescue like this, it could be a hazardous material, a rope rescue, an enclosed space, an industrial accident, a firefighting operation.”
Not everyone in the department runs this particular training scenario.
Each person has a different role to play, and after the rescue we have a debriefing session to discuss what went well and what could have been better.
“Our ultimate goal is for someone to survive this incident,” Van Orsdal said. “We always have a plan A, a plan B, and at least a plan C.”