Responders get hands-on experience

WELLSBURG – Several hundred first responders descended on Brooke High School Saturday for the 15th annual Upper Ohio Valley Fire & Rescue School, a two-day, hands-on skill building exercise.

The event organizers, Hooverson Heights Fire Chief Rob Carroll and his wife, Linda, said the school aims to teach new recruits the basics, “how to do things the proper way,” and to hone skills and even impart new techniques for veterans.

“We teach them so when they face that situation, they’ll know what to do, it will start clicking,” he said. “They’ll know exactly what to do.”

The school covered techniques ranging from a hazmat refresher course and meth lab awareness for emergency responders to ATV, hunter, confined space and auto rescues, to basic pump operations and hydraulics, basic structure firefighting, emergency vehicle operations, fire investigation and rapid intervention team operations.

“One of our more advanced classes is a hunter rescue class,” he said. “A guy gets trapped in a tree while he’s out hunting, and they have to figure out a way to bring him down. Another one is an ATV rescue – they have to use a GPS to locate victims, stabilize them and bring them out of the woods to safety.”

Mrs. Carroll said the curriculum also includes “classes required by the state that they have to take every year, refresher courses.”

“Everything is geared toward protecting and serving,” she said.

While it’s hard to gauge how many lives may have been saved by what participants have learned at the school over the past 15 years, she said they “get comments all the time about how much they learned, how it’s prepared them to be better firefighters.”

She said the first responders taking part in the rescue school hailed from throughout West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The school is sponsored by Hooverson Heights VFD, RESA 6, West Virginia Division of Technical & Adult Education, Wheeling Nisshin, Brooke-Hancock Local Emergency Planning Committee and A.V. Lauttamus Communications.