On Saturday, January 11, 2020 local fire departments met at Saranac Inn to work on rapid intervention team training also known as RIT. A RIT team is used to rescue firefighters in a structure fire and consists of a team from 2-12 members. Today, 35 firefighters from Bloomingdale, Lake Placid, Paul Smiths, Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake all worked together to practice rescuing fellow firefighters.
Firemen and women are trained to maintain situational awareness while working in structure fires, but unfortunately with the changing conditions inside accidents occur such as: structural collapse, entanglement, disorientation or becoming trapped. Because of these accidents’ firefighters need to be prepared to help fellow brothers and sisters. These are skills that we are hoping never to have to use, but it is vital for us to be prepared for any situation!
To conduct this training the firefighters were brought to an unknown location so that they were not familiar with the layout of the buildings and blindfolded. They were told to search the building for a potential victim inside. As 2 firefighters were searching for victims, instructors would take rope and entangle the air packs to simulate a mayday entanglement situation.
The 2 mayday firefighters would communicate with the incident commander "IC" on the situation inside. It is then up to the incident commander to signal the 4 member RIT team to assist the mayday firefighters.
Just like the search firefighters the RIT team is also blindfolded to practice working in a heavy smoke condition atmosphere and must navigate through the structure to locate and assist the mayday firefighters.
Typically, a RIT team consists of a team leader, extrication firefighter, air supply firefighter and rope firefighter. The team leader maintains communication with the IC, Extrication firefighter carries any tools that might be needed to help the down firefighters, Air Supply firefighter carries a extra air tank and the rope firefighter carries a rope bag and deploys a rope line to allow the team to quickly exit the building.
Following each drill a debriefing and critique took place so that all could learn what went well, and what could be done better.
Regarding the multi department attendance: In our very rural area, it is almost always the case that the fire departments present today work together as a team to provide sufficient manpower and the equipment needed in these sometimes large scale manpower intensive incidents. Today was a great opportunity for us all to work together to become proficient in our trade and develop a skill we hope we never have to use.
As we have said in all of our training articles, it takes a lot of training to be ready for all of these incidents. Your SLVFD as well as our neighboring mutual aid departments are working very hard to be prepared to serve the community we love when the time comes.