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Firefighters learn the ropes during rescue course

Mar. 20—Muskogee firefighter Malcolm Love said he learned important lessons rappelling down a tower Tuesday.

“Just trust your equipment, know your equipment,” he said. “I’m learning how to be more proficient in ropes, learning how to rescue when we need to.”

Love and other members of Muskogee Fire Department are learning rope rescue techniques from Oklahoma State University Fire Service Training over the next few weeks.

Steve Beauvais with MFD special operations said about 90 members will go through the training, which runs through May 2. He said it has been a few years since MFD has had such training.

“This class will refresh the members of the fire department who had the class in the past and train all new fire fighters that have had little to no rope training,” he said. “This class teaches anchor placement and strength of rescue rope and proper rigging of rescue equipment.”

Participants learned self-rescue operation Tuesday at the City of Muskogee First Responder Training Center. One lesson involved dealing with a rope malfunction while descending from a fourth-floor window. Another involved situations when they’re upside-down while rappelling.

The courses involves a lot of repetition.

“Anytime you’re setting ropes up, it’s going to take some time,” Beauvais said. “That’s why we’re going through so many repetitive motions, to be comfortable and get that muscle memory built for when we do need to do it.”

Actual scenarios needing rope rescue don’t happen often in Muskogee, Beauvais said.

“But there are a lot pf places in town that have the opportunity for it to happen,” he said.

“This training will improve our ability to respond to any emergency calls that would require ropes,” he said. “Not only a rope rescue situation where the firefighter has to rappel to save a victim, rope rescue is also needed in confined space rescue as well as swift-water rescue.”

OSU Fire Service instructor Jim Bailey said that with eight-weeks per fire department shift, the course has 100% involvement from the MFD.

Firefighters also learned to tie basic knots and overhand knots.

“We’ll ultimately teach them to do a tension high line, anything from building top to building top or along sides of a river,” Bailey said.

Firefighter Jake Woodard said Tuesday was the first time for him to do a rope rescue.

“Awesome stuff here, and we can definitely use it,” Woodard said. “You definitely have to learn coordination, if you have a fear of heights, it’s probably not something you want to do, but I’m enjoying it.”


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