Firefighters Train Underground in OSU Tunnels

CORVALLIS, Ore. — A little more than a year ago flames burned through the tunnels under Oregon State University.  Although it’s a rare occasion, emergencies in those tunnels can and do happen.

On Tuesday, firefighters returned underground to better prepare themselves for those unique types of emergencies.

First, firefighters gathered to find out what the scenario was.

“It’s going to have a bad atmosphere and you’re going to have to perform a rescue,” said Battalion Chief Andy Louden with the Corvallis Fire Department.

Then, it was go time.  The crew is split up into groups, with one controlling the communication and the air supply system.  It’s a system which isn’t used on normal calls.

“If you’re using that, you’re in an atmosphere that is immediately dangerous to your life or your health, so it needs to be put together correctly, and it has to work,” said Lt. Brent Goold with the Corvallis Fire Department.

Another group’s task was to find the victim.

“This patient had some chest pain, and had collapsed down there,” said Firefighter & Paramedic Kevin Fulsher with the Corvallis Fire Department.

Since the victim in the mock scenario couldn’t move on his own, and firefighters couldn’t do much for him underground, they quickly strapped him in to get him to safety.

“I’m going to do a quick assessment, figure out if they’re breathing or not, get them on the board and get them out as fast as possible,” Fulsher said.

Like in many training scenarios, there are lessons to be learned.

“The trouble that I had was my glove selection, I wore my structure gloves which don’t really allow a lot of dexterity,” Fulsher said.

However, even the smallest of mistakes can make a huge difference in real life.

“Had I not done this training, I probably wouldn’t have learned that, and I might have made the same mistake when it really counted and it would have slowed me down,” Fulsher said.

After the final group above ground pulled the victim to safety, crews took a moment to reflect.

“We’ve been working up to this drill, so they were just putting a bunch of different skills together into one drill, and I thought it went well, there was a few things we learned,” Louden said.

Corvallis fire crews will be back there training for the next two days to ensure every firefighter and volunteer has the skills they need to respond to that type of emergency.

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