Nisland/Arpan hosts fire school

August 26, 2018

NISLAND — The Nisland/Arpan Volunteer Fire and Rescue hosted the Butte County Fire Protection Association fire school Aug. 18 at the Nisland fairgrounds. Approximately 40 firefighters and instructors attended the one-day event.

Personnel from four different departments showed up for refreshers or new information.

Alan Johnson of the Rapid City Fire Department brought new hazardous material information to the group.

“It brings a new level of awareness to these guys,” said Johnson. “Did you know that milk can be considered a hazardous material?”

Johnson was referring to an event where a milk tanker accidentally polluted a stream when it crashed.

To start the day, Black Hills Life Flight, which is now stationed in Spearfish, flew in to the fairgrounds and held a session encouraging firefighters to become familiar with how Life Flight works and what local personnel can do in the event a flight is called due to accident or injury.

Larry Begley, the pilot, spoke to the group about how they can assist in landings, takeoffs, and securing the scene around the helicopter during an event.

“Safety around the helicopter is the most important,” said Begley. He shared the distance around the running rotors that is needed during a “hot” pickup, when they don’t shut the aircraft down.

Begley said many things can affect a flight pickup, including the condition of the patient, the temperature and conditions of the weather, whether it is a cold or hot load. The helicopter that this group brought in was the aircraft that had been damaged in Rapid City just before the start of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, when an alleged intoxicated driver rammed it. It had been repaired and was good to go, according to the Life Flight crew, which also included nurse Nickey Nielan and paramedic Chase Hansen.

“Call early and often,” said Begley. “We would rather be on our way to a scene and be turned back than not be there when needed because we weren’t called soon enough.”

Begley said that with the transition to the Spearfish location, their footprint of assistance had changed somewhat with being able to get to the north and west more quickly.

He also said that assistance with the landing zone by a fire department was crucial.

Two more sessions were available for those participating in the day. They included the hazmat session and a refresher on S-130 and S-190 Wildland classes. The instructor for the day was Brad Olson of the Vale Fire Department. He quickly went through both books and highlighted information.

“It’s basically common sense,” said Olson, referring to the techniques listed in the book for battling wildland blazes. “We don’t use 10-codes, but use plain language,” referring to the 10-codes used by most law enforcement entities. “We need to have even the most lightly trained person be able to understand.”

There were at least four new people at this session and they were encouraged to take the online classes to get their certification. As part of the certification, Olson held practicals where firefighters had to learn how to deploy and use a fire shelter as well as learn communications on the radio. Once these new people get their certification, they will be on the roster for local departments and be able to respond.

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