SULPHUR, LA (KPLC) - They are often times the first emergency responders on the scene and today firefighters from all over Southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas got hands on training for vehicle extrication. Several different scenarios were set up at the Calcasieu Emergency Response Training Center.
"It's real important to get this type of training. It's a great way for them to use the equipment and ask questions without lives being involved. This is a very real life situation that can happen at any moment," explained Todd Parker, CERTC Technician. "They are learning new techniques to access victims that are involved in a car accident. Not only to access them for EMS assistance for medical treatment but to also get them removed from the vehicle and into the hospital where they can receive life saving treatment."
A team of firefighters demonstrated how to lift a dashboard off of a victim involved in a crash and removed the entire roof of the car. Most of the firefighters in attendance are volunteers and is the first time being exposed to this equipment and techniques.
When every second counts these firefighters work to get the victim to safety within what they call the "golden hour."
"Our goal is to bring that time within that 60 minute time period where from the onset to an operating room. The only way we can do that is through practice and using tools, learning new techniques and different ways of getting into these things," said Fire Chief Dean Lappe, Houston River Fire Department.
Firefighters Tasha Berzas and Jerry Wilkerson are "newbies" and said the experience is invaluable.
"I have never been on an extrication situation so this was a great way to watch and learn. I know that if I went out there right now I would be prepared to help save a life. That's my passion," said Berzas, Carlyss Fire Department.
Berzas and her younger sister joined the Carlyss Fire Department in December. Wilkerson is a retired airline pilot and also recently joined a volunteer fire department in Vernon Parish.
"It's huge. It's essential. I don't know how you can do it otherwise. You really have to do it. You can't talk about this stuff only - you have to actually do it. It's different when you get your hands on it and can see how you are supposed to hold the equipment. There's little details you just can't talk about," said Wilkerson, Vernon Parish.