Last Wednesday night, a dark, quiet, cold house on the side of Route 116 was suddenly lit up by spotlights as a crowd gathered outside. Hinesburg Fire Department Captain Eric Spivack spoke to the group as they formed a circle in the snowy yard, hands shoved in pockets against the cold. The group of about two dozen firefighters, EMTs, and police officers, all from Hinesburg, was there for EMS training in a real house, as the fire department has done for weeks.
Said Spivack, “The scenarios are meant to mimic conditions we may find on an actual call.” Though the house has been unoccupied for over a year, the local community has donated furniture to recreate the situations firefighters and EMTs find in real emergencies. The home is unlit and unheated, but the team brought in lights for their training. Nothing could be done about the cold, though.
On this night, one group headed up to the second floor of the house to practice use of a stairchair – a wheelchair that can be used to transport a patient down a flight of stairs. The chair has treads and is designed to move slowly down the stairs no matter the size of the patient. As he demonstrated use of the stairchair, one EMT noted that they’ve never dropped a patient.
Meanwhile, in a downstairs living room, the rest of the group learned, or practiced, how to use a doty belt – a specially designed set of straps – to gently lift a patient who has fallen back into a chair. Firefighter and EMT Ed Waite pointed out that this was a common occurrence. Next, the group practiced moving a patient with a Mega Mover – a large tarp with handles that can be used to transport a fallen, injured patient to a stretcher. Also discussed were keeping a patient calm and respecting her feelings in what is undoubtedly a stressful and frightening situation.
EMT training takes place monthly, said Spivack, and EMTs also participate in other trainings, including fire and vehicle extraction. Next month, they will again be training so that they will be ready to help when a local resident makes that late-night call.