Saving lives in sweltering heat

Saving lives in sweltering heat
By: Arnold Wyrick
Carbondale, IL - Neither rain, or snow, or sweltering heat can keep a firefighter from doing their job, saving lives.  And 34 firefighters from 9 Southern Illinois fire departments are braving the heat to learn how to save someone in a collapsed building, a trench cave-in, high atop a building, and in a confined space.
On Wednesday firefighters tugged and pulled with all their might to lift a fellow firefighter to safety 180 feet in the air atop of the Mae Smith tower on the SIU campus.  The technique is called the high line system.
"It can be used in grain bin rescues, or other situations similar to that, like for Fern Clyffe or Giant City Park.  Where you have the rock bluffs.  It can be used there," says Firefighter Jerry Odum of the Marion Fire Department.
Using over 600 feet of rope, and an anchoring system made up of stakes driven several feet in the ground one by one each firefighter will get to experience what it's like to dangle from a rope while taking a victim strapped into a basket to safety.
"We figure if you can do it off a 17 story building, then if you get down to a 3 or 4 story building.  You kind of get rid of the fear factor of being up high," Odum said.
The 2 week training session is being hosted by the University of Illinois.  And it's all being paid for by funding through the Homeland Security Act.  The 34 member team in Southern Illinois are part of 37 teams spread out across the state who can be called upon to respond anywhere, at anytime.  A mission that's just part of what the Illinois Terrorism Task prepares for in order to keep people safe in Illinois.