By John Hayden
A driver lies bleeding in their wrecked car. A person is trapped inside a raging fire. A co-worker has a heart attack in the middle of the office. These situations seem thrilling when they’re playing out in TV shows and movies, but they’re part of daily life for firefighters, EMTs, and other first responders who show up right away when everything is going wrong. Thanks to their skill and new technology, these life-or-death situations end in life more than ever.
Emergency rescue has come a long way from just connecting a hose to a hydrant or grabbing the “Jaws of Life” to free a trapped person. Of course effective equipment comes with a cost, and Coral Springs Fire Chief Mike McNally is working to help South Floridians understand that when every second counts, every dollar counts. Recently they dressed members of the Parkland City Commission and administrators in fire rescue gear and put them through their paces. “It’s to give the commission an understanding of what it is that we do,” Mike told OutClique, “plus the tools and equipment we utilize.”
It’s called Fire Ops 101, and a thrilling video of the new equipment in action shows just some of the work that we usually never see. “I was able to perform search and rescue with my colleagues,” Parkland Commissioner Nancy Metayer said after the training. “I was able to maneuver through a building that’s on fire, also rescue a patient out of an elevator shaft, and ensure they got all the resources and attention they needed for a successful recovery.” Chief McNally says the day of training turns a line on a budget resolution into a tangible reality. “It gives the commission an understanding of what it is that we do, plus the tools and equipment we utilize.”
Parkland City Commissioner Joy Carter says the experience reinforced how money spent today can save lives tomorrow. “I often think like most residents and say, ‘Why do we have the shiniest?,’ ‘Why do we have the newest?,’ and ‘Why do we have the best?’ If you think about it, technology does change frequently. Equipment that may have weighed 120 pounds, so it took a lot more effort and a lot more time, and time is critical when you’re trying to extricate somebody from a vehicle or a building.” Chief McNally told OutClique about some of the gear making a difference every day. Some equipment ran on hydraulics, and range was limited by the length of the hose and took time to set up, while battery powered gear is ready to go as soon as it arrives. Another is called a Lucas Device, which performs CPR automatically, giving the precise amount of pressure and repetitions. The Lucas Device not only ensures proper procedure, it also frees up a responder to help other victims.
While Fire Ops 101 can’t be given to everyone, Chief McNally says there are plenty of ways people can assist with public safety. His group does public education and CPR training, and he’s a big proponent of an app called Pulse Point. Once you’re CPR certified, you can register and if an emergency happens near you, you are notified on your phone so you can help.
From the phones in our pockets to first responder gear, public safety is taking giant leaps forward, and Parkland Vice Mayor Joshua Simmons is glad he got a look inside the danger. “It’s good to know what our firefighters go through every single day to keep us safe, to save lives.”