Primary Search Training provides unique teaching opportunity for Rapid City Fire Department

The exercise gives the first responders a first sweep through a scene and focused on extracting victims in a building while the clock ticks.

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Rapid City Firefighters took part in a Primary Search Training, Wednesday in Placer Dorms at South Dakota Mines.

The exercise gives the first responders a first sweep through a scene and focused on extracting victims in a building while the clock ticks.

When First responders arrive on scene, they have 10 to 20 minutes before victims can succumb to smoke inhalation – the main threat to those stuck inside a building.

“In our primary search, that’s why we go so fast because we need to get you out of that environment,” said Mike Bartling, a Training Captain with the Rapid City Fire Department.

It also touches on a key aspect of training – knowing building types and what firefighters could potentially face, but the dorm setting added another element to the test.

“A lot of times we focus on residence, like a single-family dwelling, a house or an apartment,” Bartling said. “This is a little bit different cause you have so many smaller bedroom areas to cover and then you have big square footage to cover.”

A new test without one of the most basic senses – sight.

Before the training begins, instructors place plastic wrap on their masks for a more realistic look- but instructors go a step further.

After the press n’ seal is applied, the fire department also deploys a smoke machine, which makes it nearly impossible for firefighters to see, so as they go down the hallways, it’s vitally important that communication is key.

Firefighters are forced to work swiftly and carefully while searching for victims.

“Obviously, you can’t see anything, so communication is key, so just staying in contact with the other firefighter that you’re with, explaining to them what you’re seeing through your thermal-imaging camera through the smoke and them also explaining to you if the room is clear or if they have found a victim at that time,” said Shane Barrows, a Journeyman & Medic with the R.C.F.D.

Training with an emphasis putting firefighters in unforeseen circumstances.

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