COLOMBIA AUTO EXTRICATION PROJECT CONCLUDES
PORTLAND FIREFIGHTERS CHAMPION CAUSE FOR MORE TRAINING IN TENJO
(1 OCT 2014) GMR instructors concluded another successful project in the country of Colombia last month teaching automobile extrication techniques to first responders from Tenjo Fire Department and surrounding communities. This course teaches basic patient care and removal techniques utilizing minimal equipment. All materials and equipment used in class is then donated to the agencies participating in the training.
The four instructors represented Portland Fire and Rescue and were led by veteran team leader Don Gresham. Don writes his summary of the experience:
"Team Colombia landed in Bogota on September 11th. We were met by Lt. Rodelo and his firefighters from Tenjo Fire Department late in the evening. We were driven to Tambio to a beautiful bed and breakfast. Fresh coffee and a nice breakfast was served at our new place to stay. It is on a farm with cows, goats, chickens and ducks. It looked like it was straight out of Italy.
Opening ceromonies started early September 12th led by Lt. Rodelo and the Mayor of Tenjo. The firefighters from all over the country sang their country songs from the area they represent. It was amazing to watch. I was asked to say a few words on behalf of GMR. It was an honor. We felt very welcomed. We then took a few pictures with the Mayor, firefighters, and some representives from their government. We started the course with classroom and discussions. All of the firefighters were very eager to learn. We ended the first day of class just after 6pm."
"Later in the evening, we were invited to dinner with the Mayor and had a great Colombian dinner and amazing discussions. Day 2 we started with a quick c-spine overview. Then started stabilization techniques. For the next couple of days we showed them 16 different techniques using high lift jacks for extrication."
"After class on day 2 they gave us some really nice Tenjo Fire Football Jerseys and we played Football under the lights at 8500ft elevation. The Americans were having a difficult time breathing however it was a good time. Day 4 we wrapped things up with 2 large scale scenarios with 4 vehicles. Integrating 40 students into a scenario was no easy task. They did a great job! They used the incident command system and made us very proud of everything they learned in such a short time."
"After the final scenarios, we then enjoyed closing ceremonies. They made this course into national certification. There is a great need for this course all around Colombia. It is shocking the amount of serious motor vehicle collisions that occur. The fire departments have little or no resources to extricate patients. The high lift jacks work extremely well in these communities. We spent one last night in Tambio. The fire chief and people from the government came out and brought us some Colombian Nation drinks to taste around the fire. Then we ended our trip in Bogota. The first day Lt. Rodelo was our tour guide and showed us around the Capital city. It is very large and amazing. We spent another couple of days there exploring before we returned home. This was an amazing trip! We met some great people and made life long new friends. This team of guys were amazing to work with. They all have a ton of life and on the job experience. Can't say enough about Ed Resch, Gary Fergus, Anthony Braxton, and Zach Parrish!! All rock stars! Thanks for the opportunity. There is a lot of work left to do in Colombia and hope to be back soon. Thanks, Don Gresham."
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