Fort Knox, KY- Fort Knox hosted a training event for around 50 firefighters, junior firefighters, trainees and instructors to work on their survival skills.
Fort Knox Assistant Fire Chief Todd Vinton explained that this course is a requirement to become a volunteer certified firefighter and its only goal is survival.
“All of this class is strictly about techniques to help firefighters survive,” Vinton said. “The exercises were all developed from different instances that have happened where firefighters have lost their lives.”
The course was on Saturday and Sunday and included both theoretical and practical learning.
Day one focused on self-rescue, especially when separated from teammates and in situations with little to no visibility. Vinton said each exercise had an added level of difficulty in some form.
“At the first evolution, they’re blindfolded,” he said. “They have to feel their way down the hose and when they get to a set of couplings, they need to figure out which way goes back out to the truck just by feeling the knots on the couplings.”
Trainees rotate between stations, going through each exercise at least twice to become familiar with techniques.
“At the red station they’re working on wall breaching,” Vinton said. “They’ll go inside of a wall and then have to come out a window.”
“It simulates getting entangled in wires,” Vinton said. “Sometimes when we go through a house, there are extension cords. If they go through a wall, they’ll get things wrapped around them.”
The second day of exercises focused on rescuing others rather than getting themselves out of danger. Vinton said one of the most difficult aspects was devoted to helping a fallen teammate.
“They simulate down firefighters,” he said. “They’ll drag them to the steps and two trainees will grab them and pack him or her all the way up the stairs.”
Vinton said several different departments participated in the training event including Fort Knox, Flaherty, Glendale, Valley Creek, Lebanon Junction and Radcliff. The instructors were from three separate regions and had more than 300 combined hours of experience, making sure that the students got the most from this course.
“This is an intense class, and they’ll come out bruised,” he said. “It’s all about how much you want to put into it, how much you want to participate, and what you want to get out of it.”
Vinton, a state instructor who has been a firefighter for 30 years, 25 of which at Fort Knox, said he was encouraged by what he witnessed over the weekend.
“I feel good seeing these younger people learning these techniques and being dedicated,” he said. “You’ve got to have it in your heart to be able to do it.”