VOLUNTEERS IN THE FIELD
CARIBBEAN ROPE RESCUE COURSE CONCLUDES IN THE D.R.
TRAINING TO AID CAR ACCIDENT VICTIMS OVER CLIFFS
(15 May 2015) GMR's third training project in the Central Dominican Republic city of Cotui ended on May 15th following a three day crash course on basic rope rescue techniques for first responders. This training course builds on previous courses in EMS and auto extrication techniques for bomberos of Cotui and surrounding jurisdictions.
Day one of training began in the classroom as firefighters learned the basics of ropes and knots and an introduction to rope rescue. The class of thirty students represented many small fire departments from Central Dominican Republic who normally would not have access to this type of training. Included in the curriculum, the class was exposed to rope rescue equipment, basic knot tying, rappelling, lowering systems and victim removal.
The class took well to the training and it seemed to progress quicker than anticipated. Knots covered included figure eights, figure eights on a bight, figure eight follow throughs, butterflies, water knots and double fisherman's. All of these knots are crucial for rope systems and all students were tested to ensure their competency prior to continuing.
Next, students were instructed on anchors, rappel techniques, and lowering systems. All systems were set up in in the classroom in a controlled environment prior to moving to the drill site. With no margin for error, it is crucial that all students are well-versed in these systems prior to performing them in a real situation.
Day two of class moved to the Hatillo Dam, southwest of Cotui which holds back the Rio Yuna. The reservior is the largest in the country and provides hydroelectric power for the country. With a controlled enviornment for learning to rappel, it was a perfect site to begin the training. Students began putting their day one training to work, performing single rescuer rappels and lowering systems down the 100' sloped hillside adjacent to the dam. Despite some initial jitters, the class performed quite well. Students built and maintained anchors and lowering systems throughout the 90 degree day, always maintaining a positive attitude.
In the afternoon, the class moved to the walls of the dam, performing rappels from the face, both on the sloped side, as well as the vertical side. Due to drought conditions, the vertical side (or, the water side) had receded to allow students to descend all the way to the bottom, some 150 feet. Not for the faint of heart, this exercise is a test of trust, both of the equipment, and their co-workers. With a belay line (safety line) attached to each person, it gave them added comfort of knowing they were secure. All exercises in drill and during real emergencies maintain a large safety margin to ensure there are no failures in the systems.
The final day involved a scenario covering all the skills they had learned in class. Students were expected to build and man several anchors and lowering systems and develop an incident action plan to rescue a simulated victim stuck on an embankment. The exercise went extremely well and it was good to see an incident command system in place. Our "victim" was safely rescued and the course concluded.
All in all, a tremendous success in Cotui. It is remarkable to see the positive changes and improvements in the quality of response for the fire department in just 3 short years. With more training on the schedule for late 2015 and beyond, it should be an amazing ride for both GMR and the bomberos of the Dominican Republic. Thank you all for your dedication to the craft. Thanks also to our supporters who make this and our other projects possible.
UPCOMING PROJECTS, 2015:
Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Cotui, Dominican Republic