Men and women began searching a smoke-filled building Friday while around the corner others extinguished an 8-foot flame.
Though it may sound dangerous, the two scenes were simulated at the Community Emergency Response Team Train-the-Trainer Course held at the Pacific Rim Institute of Safety and Management Center off Marathon Road in Kenai. The scenes were one of the last activities that wrapped up three days of CERT training.
The purpose of the courses were to train people already in the field as first responders how to teach the public about light search and rescue, fire suppression and emergency medical skills to help during a major disaster with classes and the simulation drills.
"The goal is to take these people and have them train other people," said Jan Henry, coordinator with the Office of Emergency Management for the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
More than 30 people, representing 10 communities in the borough, attended the three-day course coordinated by the Office of Emergen-cy Management and funded by the borough's spruce bark beetle program.
"The ultimate goal is to have more people able to assist in disaster response and recovery process," Henry said.
The four simulations, including a triage exercise, a utility management and small fire control, patient extrication and a building search, were presented by a Portland, Ore.-based training team. The simulations taught the group certified Federal Emergency Management Agency programs.
Participants were divided into four groups and rotated to each of the simulations during the morning on Friday.
While a group stood outside in the spring-like air, it received instruction from Rob Maurer, a fire medic, about how to turn off all utilities during disaster, fire control and proper use of a fire extinguisher.
Though Maurer coined the exercise the "easiest one of the bunch," the exercise taught group members how to recognize what they could and couldn't do in a fire situation and how to extinguish the flame properly.
"Everybody was successful and they did a great job," Maurer said.
Just a few steps away, a group stood outside a blue-green building that had just sustained an earthquake.
Rachel Jacky, the course manager and Community Emergency Services Manager with the Portland Fire Department, discussed with the group the steps needed to enter the structure.
Inside the building, a series of hazards were set that could potentially injure rescuers, including gas leaks, a hole in the floor, downed electrical wires and an earthquake aftershock.
After a briefing, the group, equipped with flashlights, entered the building. Seconds later voices were heard asking "what do we do now?" Then, the group emerged, discussed the new scenario and again disappeared into the cloud of smoke.
Sometime later one person emerged with a dummy.
"If this was real life, they would have found one person," Jacky said, adding that the goal was to find viable victims without anyone on the search team getting injured.
"We always try to assure when they get the training that they will always keep themselves safe, that is the first priority," Jacky said.
"They will take that information and teach people the procedures in their communities," she said.
In the event of a disaster, Jacky said, it is important to have individuals who have the training to enter a building safely and collect needed information for the professional responders.
"Citizens who can take care of their neighbors and take care of themselves will be a great resource."
Inside the PRISM building, two rescue scenarios kept the attention of the other two groups.
On the right side of a red fire truck, individuals joined together in the simulated earthquake extrication to rescue the dummy that laid under a large board.
Under the instruction of Joel Kasprzak, a paramedic lieutenant, the rescuers used cribbing techniques, consisting of using a fulcrum and levers, to lift heavy debris off the victim. Once the material was cleared, the group stabilized the dummy with a neck collar, placed it on a gurney and removed it from the area.
Kasprzak said the exercise is to help individuals assess patients, conditions, surroundings and set up a plan on how to extricate a person.
On the other side of the fire truck, men and women were scattered in a simulated explosion accident. While some pretended to be dead, others drenched in fake blood screamed in pain.
Kevin Shanders, a paramedic lieutenant, was in charge of the triage exercise. He briefed the group of rescuers and led them to the scene.
The group accessed the scene, checking each victim and prioritizing them for care. During the simulation, the rescuers used their knowledge to help the victims and secure the scene.
While some confusion occurred during the exercises, the goal of the training was not to make the group professional responders, it was simply to provide them with information to help them train others.
"If these guys can take it back to their communities, they can tailor it for their own situations and capabilities," Henry said.
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