Twenty-nine participants from Upson County’s seven local fire departments completed the GEMA Crash Victim Extrication Course on November 14-15. Firefighters from Salem VFD, Yatesville VFD, Rock Hill VFD, Northside VFD, Thurston VFD, Lincoln Park VFD and City of Thomaston Fire Department participated in the 16-hour course, learning the specific technicalities of gaining access to patients in vehicle crashes through the use of the “Jaws of Life” and other tools and techniques.
All departments now have “Jaws of Life” capability, as county SPLOST funds were used to bring four departments up to par with the other three that already had the equipment in hand. With deployment of this equipment, Upson County now has 9 sets of “Jaws” available. Each of the seven fire departmens has one complete set, and EMA Search and Rescue inherited the 2 sets that belonged to Upson EMS.
Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) instructors Jerry Benefield from the Carroll County Fire Department and David Bostick form the City of Centerville Fire Department led the class. Saturday training covered lectures, demonstrations and video training on every aspect of working a crash – from stabilizing the vehicle to actually removing parts of the vehicle from around the entrapped patient, from careful extrication of that victim to cleaning the equipment once the tasks are completed. Sunday training involved actual hands-on work with the various tools of the trade – from simple hand tools, power tools from construction and mechanic origins, to the hydraulic tools commonly referred to as “Jaws of Life.”
A big thank you goes out to Jimmy Womble for allowing the class use of his wrecker yard and utilizing his own junked vehicles for the Sunday hands-on training, as a last minute change of venue was required Sunday morning.
Some of the participants were being introduced to guided extrication tactics for the first time, while others were renewing knowledge due changes in vehicle composition, structure and manufacturing. Each firefighter not only gained the knowledge to correctly extricate victims from vehicle crashes, but also earned 16 hours of continuing education credit for this training.
Congratulations on course completion to Nena Huckaby, Katherine Lee, James Davison, Shane Moore, Billy Lee, Kevin Kaczmarek, Benjamin Ragan, Bob Brewer, Zach Brewer, Jay Dover, Crystal Spoon, Jake Spoon, Rebecka Brewer, Richard Hickmon, Wiley Long, Paul Oxenford, Lonnie Wilder, Jacques Holston, Curtis Wilder, Dravian Ivey, Ernest Wilder, Nicky Hamby, Austin Bell, Dallas Lee, Chris Cobb, Josh Akins, Chris Huckaby, Zack Beckham, and Yancey Bell.
Martha Anne McCarty is the Director of the Upson County Emergency Management Association.