Firefighters plan training exercise at SIUC - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Firefighters plan training exercise at SIUC

Firefighters with MABAS Division 45 discuss exercise training at SIUC. (SOURCE: Rae Daniel/ KFVS) Firefighters with MABAS Division 45 discuss exercise training at SIUC. (SOURCE: Rae Daniel/ KFVS)
(Source: KFVS) (Source: KFVS)

Firefighters in and around the Carbondale community held a training seminar on removing victims trapped in small, confined spaces at Southern Illinois University Carbondale on Tuesday morning.

The training took place in the steam tunnels beneath the campus.

The entire south end of Lot 47, located on the west side of the Neckers building, was blocked off for the exercise. 

"We'll be working it like it's a regular incident and it's about maintaining our proficiency," Capt. Jay Crippen of the Carbondale Fire Department said. "If you don't use the skills you lose them."

Associate Director of physical plant service at SIU, Brad Dillard says there will be four miles of steam tunnels, giving firefighters training of a confined space situation.

"The university has maintenance staff in the tunnels on a regular basis so there is a significant likelihood we might have to utilize the service ourselves at some point," Dillard said.

“Long, dark, hot humid, very limited air moving through,” are the words West Frankfort firefighter, Derek Sailliez used to describe the training exercise.

“It’s warm," Sailliez said. "Thankfully we were in a bigger space, so we were able to walk and move.”

Working in the steam tunnels underground, Sailliez is one of many firefighters that make up MABAS Division 45. 

“It’s a statewide agency that is divided up in divisions," Crippen said. "We are the southernmost end of the state and we have division 45. We have one of the larger areas, because we are so spread out.”

Firefighters involved with this regional technical rescue team are from all over southern Illinois…allowing them to train monthly on technical skills needed to rescue people.

 “This is not just basic firefighter skills that everybody knows," Crippen said. "Each discipline takes 40 to 80 hours worth of training and then maintain those week long training courses,  you have to use it or you end up losing those skills.”

Firefighters descended into the underground on the search for mannequins; place holders for the reality of saving someone in this situation.

Sailliez says the conditions were anything but ideal, but that’s how you learn.

“Train like you’re going to play," Sailliez said. "If you have it in a controlled environment where it’s nice and easy and well lit, and it’s easy …we’re never going to experience of a real life scenario such as this so training in what we're actually going to be doing is crucial.”

The exercise began at 8:30 a.m. and concluded around noon.

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