The Ottumwa Courier

Ottumwa

May 22, 2013

Training goes beyond fires

(Continued)

Miller said before the rescuers enter the hot zone, their vital signs are checked. After they get out of the situation, and out of their protective gear, they see EMTs to have their vital signs checked again. In fact, all of those steps and stations have to be set up before firefighters make entry for the first time.

While the emergency workers are in the hot zone, other firefighters are watching the weather.

"The truck has its own weather station," said Benge.

With all that would be going on, why would they be watching the weather?

Because, explained Miller, the support personnel at the decontamination stations, in the hazmat truck or at the ambulance don't want to get a face full of ammonia. With a strong enough wind, depending on which direction it's blowing, a street may need to be blocked off, or nearby homes may need to be evacuated.

"Last year, we were at a [fire] with an anhydrous ammonia leak. We arrived and immediately had to move the command post [due to toxic fumes]. We got there at 9 p.m. and left at 5 a.m., and the wind changed direction three times," Miller said.

To see reporter Mark Newman's Twitter feed, go to @couriermark.

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