More than 20 southern Illinois firefighters go through rope ops training

More than 20 firefighters joined together for some unique training designed to prepare them for just about anything
Published: May. 18, 2023 at 4:38 PM CDT|Updated: May. 18, 2023 at 5:14 PM CDT
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MARION, Ill. (KFVS) - When you dial 911, local firefighters are usually some of the first on the scene.

On May 18, more than 20 firefighters joined together for some unique training designed to prepare them for just about anything.

Firefighters from more than nine southern Illinois departments are spending a week in Marion learning the ins and outs of rope operations training that could help save lives in the future.

Lake of Egypt Fire Chief Jerry Odum said the skills learned can be maintained.

Leaders with the MABAS training team said these kind of operations aren’t used much, but when they do happen, it’s important to jump into action.

“We’ve had a couple incidents where we had a guy that had a heart attack on top of a water tower, a gal on top of a light pole. We had a gal at Ferne Clyffe last year we had to get them off one of the rocks that she fell down,” said Odum.

Odum and Marion Fire Chief Tim Barnett have been on the team together since it began.

Barnett said the weeklong training begins with the basics and escalates quickly.

“Day one it’s introductory, there’s some book work involved, get them ready for a state test. Day two, tying knots. They start with the bare bones basic learning how to tie knots. And that eats up a couple days. It’s pretty intensive. Day three, then they start doing haul systems, doing low angles stuff and day four, now they’re on the cans doing vertical high angle rescue,” said Barnett.

On the 5th day, these firefighters will endure a full simulation. Barnett said this training is vital.

“They’ve took a whole week out of their time to learn this stuff and it does come with some stress. ‘Cause you’ve got a pretty tough state test at the end and they want to do well,” said Barnett.

Odum and Barnett both say they are proud of all of the firefighters across the region.

“Firefighters continually train and keep up on their skills. They try and keep getting better and better and that’s the only way is to keep training,” said Odum.

Once these firefighters complete their training, they will then take the state test to get certified in rope operations.