News: The fog of rescue: ARFF Marines conduct post-fire training
Story by Cpl. Sarah Fiocco
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. - Marines with Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting responded to a simulated KC-130J crash here, Jan. 6.
The training required Marines to recover “casualties” from the aircraft in smoky, post-fire conditions.
In order to make the scenario seem more realistic, Marines wore their full flame-retardant gear and had to navigate their way through a dense environment created by a smoke machine.
“We do a drill at least once a week,” said Sgt. William French, assistant section leader with ARFF and a Whittier, Calif., native. “This drill dealt with after the burn was over and how to handle that situation.”
The training was treated as an actual emergency, so none of the Marines expected the call.
“This training is important to us because it sets the standard for our job,” said Sgt. Jason Rutzinger, a rescue man with ARFF and a Beaumont, Calif., native. “We learn from our mistakes in training and from each other.”
Once the Marines pulled both the “deceased” and “injured” personnel from the aircraft, they placed them into four different categories based on the severity of their injuries.
Personnel in the black category are dead, victims placed in red need treatment within the next two to five minutes, those placed in yellow can hold out a little longer and personnel in the green category have minor injuries, French explained.
“We [evacuate] personnel in red first and work our way down to green,” French added.
After the Marines categorize each victim, they then perform basic first aid as needed.
“We have a good portion of [emergency medical technicians] and then the rest are first responders,” French said. “[First responders] can deal with the first stages of injuries.”
Although the steps to pull victims out of a deadly situation can take the firefighters only minutes to accomplish, the training leading up to real emergency situations is a long and rigorous journey.
“We save lives,” Rutzinger said. “We have to have endurance, so if there is a fire, we can get in there quickly, put the fire out and pull out the victims. It makes you think, ‘did I push myself hard enough?’”