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RCCC hosts ag rescue pilot program

ST. JOHNS – Help is on its way, literally.

Information gained from a pilot class held this past weekend will be used to develop a curriculum model that will better instruct emergency personnel responding to an agricultural accident.

Held under the umbrella of the North Carolina Department of Insurance (Office of the State Fire Marshal) in conjunction with the NC Association of Rescue and EMS, emergency responders from nine eastern North Carolina agencies took part in the 29 and one-half hours of instruction.

Locally, Fred Curley, Emergency Services Instructional Coordinator at Roanoke-Chowan Community College, and St. Johns Volunteer Fire Department Chief Wesley Liverman hosted the program. Classes were held at RCCC while the hands-on rescue scenarios were performed at Brinkley & Brinkley Farms (St. Johns-Millennium Road) with assistance from Joyner Brothers of St. Johns.

Sunday morning, the trainees practiced methods to safely rescue victims involved in a variety of agricultural accidents. Those mock victims were either pinned under an overturned tractor, had their leg caught in an auger, had fallen and were dangling from a high-rise grain bin or trapped on top of a piece of machinery.

In order to gain a better understanding of what they may face on a rescue call, the trainees were informed of the inner-workings of the latest line of sophisticated and computerized agricultural equipment.

“The best part of this training is the diversity of the students and instructors,” Curley said. “We have emergency responders from different departments, all with ideas of what will best work. We’re here working together in order to develop skills that will allow us to better serve our communities.”

Curley said the pilot program will incorporate all the ideas and adapt them into the best course of action to fit the rescue situation.

“Basically we’re using this weekend to see what works and what doesn’t work,” Curley said.

From that effort, the State Fire Marshal’s office and the Association of Rescue and EMS will develop a curriculum which will be offered through the statewide community college system.

Meanwhile, five other pilot classes are being held across the state. The ideas gained from different rescue scenarios at those classes will also be incorporated into the overall curriculum.

“Farming is vastly different throughout our state,” said Corey Roberts, Fire & Rescue Training Specialist with the State Fire Marshal’s Office. “What works here in the east may not work in the mountains. It’s our job to ensure that the curriculum built from these pilot classes covers everything that emergency responders may come face to face with.”

Billy Winn and Mike Tinkham of Gates County Rescue along with William Babbs of Halifax County, Kevin Kupetc of Lenoir County and Ron Watt of Hatteras Island were the lead instructors.

Taking part in the training were rescue and EMS workers representing Cherry Point Fire & Emergency Services, Town of Beaufort EMS, Hugo Fire & Rescue, Hatteras Island Rescue, Atlantic Beach Fire & Rescue, Gates County Rescue, Davie Fire Department and Craven County Fire & Rescue.