Tulsa, OKC Firefighters Team Up For Life-Saving Training

Thursday, June 8th 2017, 6:15 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa and Oklahoma City firefighters are teaming up for life-saving training, and they're practicing what to do if there's some kind of collapse.

Tulsa Fire District Chief RB Ellis has seen a lot in his 29 years on the department; his boots were on the ground the day after the Oklahoma City bombing in in April 1995.

"We walked around the corner and the TV coverage didn't do a justice for what it actually was," Ellis said. "It's just something that you really can't explain, and it's something that lives with you forever."

It's been 22 years, and Ellis is training the Oklahoma Task Force 1 on structure collapse. He said that training helped save lives during the OKC bombing.

"So, before we can do anything in a collapsed structure we have to shore it and make that area safe for us and safer for the people that are already in there," he said.

The Tulsa and Oklahoma City Task Forces are working side-by-side for the two-week, 10-hour-a-day course.

Teams train on everything from moving slabs of concrete to cutting steel.

"Any kind of disaster that is going to hit the state of Oklahoma, we wanna be ready for that - tornadoes, earthquakes," said Terry Sivadon, Captain Rescue Coordinator.

All the drills are challenging, but the real test was Thursday when crews climbed through a 75-foot-long tunnel to save a victim.

"The victim is the most important thing, so we are working to find that victim and make the rescue."

Exercises like these give search and rescue dogs a chance to practice their skills.

"The canine component helps us locate the victims, and then the rescuers, like in this class, help mitigate the search," Sivadon said.