Grissom hosts firefighter rescue and survival course

  • Published
  • By Douglas Hays
  • 434th ARW Public Affairs
Put yourself in Jordan Easterlund‘s boots. Standing at 6 feet, 7 inches tall, Easterlund is a big man. The obstacle in front of him, is not big.

The entrapment drill is merely an eight-foot long boxed tunnel with a two-foot by two-foot opening, literally woven with wire in an unmerciful pattern designed to snag, grasp, cut and pull at him and his bunker gear. Oh, and gloves, mask and air tank are mandatory attire to the entrapment ball.

The entrapment drill is only one of the daunting tasks Department of Defense firefighters faced during a rescue and survival course hosted at Grissom May 10-14. The course is designed to prepare them to help rescue people -- and survive in the process.

“We’ve got teams from six different departments participating in the training,” said Master Sgt. Chris Bauchle, 434th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter and one of the instructors for the course.

A team of six instructors oversaw the training of 11 students.

“It’s crucial we keep a 2-1 student to instructor ratio due to the intensity of the course,” Bauchle said.

“Our mission is to prevent death and injury by forging essential fire-ground rescue and survival skills,” Bauchle said. “We push each candidate to their limit both physically and mentally to train them to react appropriately in the life-or-death situations we are likely to be called to throughout our careers.”

Firefighters from both civilian and Reserve side of the house at Grissom were joined by others from Tinker AFB, Okla., Arnold AFB, Tenn., Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, N.Y., and even from the Kokomo City Fire Department in Kokomo, Ind.

“I’ve been doing this for more than 18 years,” said Anthony Jimcoily, a firefighter from Arnold. “Being a veteran I don’t get to put myself through the paces like I used to, and I wanted to see if I still had it.”

Broken into two groups, the teams spent the first two days covering firefighter survival.

“We had them calling a mayday under stress, window bailouts, wire entanglement procedures, wall breaching, and techniques for navigating a low-profile opening,” Bauchle said.

On the third and fourth day, training shifted to firefighters being able to save one of their own.

“We covered how to carry a downed firefighter up and down flights of stairs, drag techniques, large area search, and firefighter CPR,” Bauchle said.

Students finished the course with intense scenarios and a live fire exercise.

“We are centrally located, and have great facilities,” Bauchle said. “The weather in the spring and fall are ideal for training students in full gear and self-contained breathing apparatus.”

Grissom will host the course again in September, and anyone interested can reach out to Master Sgt. Travis Bender, via email in the global directory, to learn more and sign up.

“It impossible to get this training through computer-based training,” he added. “It takes intensive, hands-on training and repetitions under stress to train the part of our brains that is responsible for the fight-or-flight response.”

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. The Citizen Airmen from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.

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