New trailer will help firefighters prepare for emergencies in confined spaces

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Kansas firefighters are getting a new tool to help rescue people who find themselves in a tight spot.

The Kansas Fire and Rescue Training Institute unveiled a new trailer that will help with emergencies in a confined space.

The trailer will allow experts to train firefighters to pull people to safety with harnesses or by crawling in the dark to find an unconscious person. It simulates real life scenarios they could encounter.

“Take for example a water treatment facility, you have employees that have to go into confined spaces and have to treat the water,” said Kelly McCoy, the institute director. “So often times it’s public utilities or private corporations that are making things, that have vats and vaults and different things.”

The training institute serves the entire state and is based at the University of Kansas. Experts will take the trailer and travel to fire stations, as well as businesses that request a training. Funding comes from the state, fire insurance premiums, and private companies paying for services.

The trailer gives people a chance to experience what it’s like to be in the dark trying to rescue someone safely while in a hard to reach area.

“With this trailer we can do a high level of realistic training through our scenarios with this mannequin and the harness system, but very, very little risk to rescuers,” McCoy said.

Without the trailer, training occurred in actual confined spaces, which was much more dangerous.

“We can control the atmosphere in this, we can control temperature, what this allows us to do is give them different scenarios for different sorts of spaces that they’ve had in the past, or that mimic real life confined spaces,” said Ben Green, technical rescue program coordinator for the institute.

If a person is stuck and others cannot reach them in real life, firefighters don’t want them to put themselves in danger and get stuck themselves.

“They go in there, they go down, somebody’s like, oh there’s two people, I’ll go, and then you have three, and at some point somebody needs to go, stop. This is a confined space rescue, we can’t enter this space until we have the appropriate equipment including breathing apparatus and we monitor the atmosphere to figure out what’s going on down there,” McCoy said.

The trailer was supposed to be operational earlier this year, but is now starting to be used. Firefighters across the state will start to receive the training by the end of this month.

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