By D.J. Cedillos
Asst. Chief, Fire-Med Services
“What is going on with the mess in your parking lot?”, is what Fire-Med Services staff were often asked, by those driving by our office at 508 E. Broadway in Van Horn. Fire-Med Services turned our parking lot into a firefighting training arena, known as our “Drill Field”. Fire-Med Services have been conducting several Fire-Rescue-EMS classes for a few years now for local emergency responders.
Fire-Med Services conducted its first FireFighter I and II course starting in July and concluded this week with Van Horn’s Blue Origin’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) and members of the Sierra Blanca Volunteer Fire Department participating. The firefighter class was conducted both online and included 10 days of hands on training. This course covered various skills of firefighting from safety, rescue, ventilation, fire behavior, fighting fire, tools and equipment, handling fire hose, and personal protective gear and included structural firefighting Bunker Gear and the use of a Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA).
The online course work allowed for students to learn at their own pace, allowing students to work from home at any time, day or night. The hands-on portion was a gruelling 10 days with 10-12 hrs per day, Students were exhausted at the end of each day but stayed with the course and pushed through. Our training props that were on the “Drill Field” allowed for the students to conduct ventilation operations on a simulated roof, use of fire extinguishers, rolling and folding fire hose, search and rescue in a smoked filled building, and hoisting tools and equipment. In addition, Sierra Blanca ISD in conjunction with Sierra Blanca Volunteer Fire Department allowed Fire-Med Services to utilize the football field to discharge water from various sizes of firefighting hose and nozzles. Sierra Blanca Volunteer Fire Department station was also utilized as a training area for firefighting ground ladders.
A “Live Fire Burn” was probably the best experience for the firefighter students. A big thank you goes out to Hudspeth County Sheriff Arvin West and his staff for being instrumental in this exercise. An old abandoned building, formally known as the Chuck Wagon Restaurant located west of Sierra Blanca, was “control burned” on Saturday, September 4th. This live fire training involved multiple agencies including the Hudspeth County Sheriff Office, Northern Hudspeth County EMS, Sierra Blanca Volunteer Fire Department, Desert Haven Volunteer Fire Department, Blue Origin ERT and Fire-Med Services of Van Horn. The training allowed firefighter students to see how fire grows and develops inside of a structure along with some behaviors of fire. Students were able to apply their knowledge and skills gained in the course in the live scenario. A rare training opportunity for students.
With skills days concluded and the final exam remaining for students, all students have now completed our first Firefighter I and II Courses and will now be eligible to take the Texas State Firefighters and Fire Marshall Exam for certification. The course was sponsored by Blue Origin ERT, supported by Sierra Blanca Volunteer Fire Department, and conducted by Fire-Med Services of Van Horn.
Participants in the firefighter course include Sierra BlancaVolunteer Fire Department – Suzanna Dickenson and Jay Dickenson, Blue Origin ERT – Frank Childers, Alex Heinze, Mike Cox and Ian Cambell. Trainers with Fire-Med Services are, EMS Coordinator Cody Davis, Lieutenant Fernando Lucero, Director Angie Perez, and Assistant Chief D.J. Cedillos.