Special Operations in the Cuyahoga Falls Fire Department includes specific capabilities that go beyond fire fighting and EMS and utilize specialized training and equipment. Although all members of the department are highly trained in both fire fighting and EMS, many are additionally trained and capable in areas such as technical rescue, water and ice rescue, and handling hazardous materials emergencies. Members of these special operations teams train both within our own department and also with the Summit County Special Operations Response Team, and respond to requests for emergency assistance throughout Summit County and the State of Ohio.
The main disciplines of technical rescue include rope rescue, confined space rescue, trench rescue, and structural collapse rescue.
Sometimes victims become trapped or injured above or below grade and are in areas onlyaccessible with ropes and rope systems. A hiker falling from a rock ledge is a common cause. Access and/or removal of the victim accomplished with ropes by rappelling or being lowered by ropes to the victim. Specialized training is required to appropriately treat and package the patient for removal. Many times removal of the victim is also accomplished by lowering or raising with ropes.
Confined Space Rescue
OSHA defines a confined space as a space that is large enough and so configured that a person can enter to perform assigned work, has limited means for entry or exit, and that is not designed for continuous human occupancy. Examples include tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, and pits. Working in these environments is sometimes necessary, but always includes hazards that can be atmospheric (oxygen deficiency, toxic or flammable atmosphere), physical (engulfment or unstable debris) or environmental (temperature extremes, darkness, dust, etc.). Workers can also become ill or injured through normal causes and require assistance getting out of the space.
A trench is an excavation of earth that is by definition (1) deeper than it is wide, and (2) less than 15 feet wide. Many trenches are dug each year in the City of Cuyahoga Falls, and unfortunately in the U.S. between 100 and 200 people die, and nearly 3,000 are injured in excavation emergencies annually. Although collapse of the dirt walls onto someone in a trench is the most common type of excavation emergency, other trench-related problems include medical emergencies of workers in trenches (such as heart attacks and strokes) and equipment problems such as the failure of ropes, shoring equipment, and ladders. Due to the extreme hazard involved in working in this environment, each of these situations requires special removal techniques and equipment.
This area of technical rescue involves the access, treatment and removal of victims of building collapse. Explosions, natural disasters and terrorist actions are only a few of the possible causes of a collapse. The structure or building will usually require shoring or supplemental support systems that prevent or limit further collapse. Specialized search cameras and trained rescue technicians search void spaces with the collapse area to locate victims and then teams of rescue personnel work to uncover or access, treat and remove the victim.
Water and Ice Rescue
All members of the fire department are trained in surface and ice rescue operations. The Water Rescue Team consists of members who have specialized technician level training to respond to water emergencies within our City as well as provide mutual aid to Summit County and the State of Ohio. These members provide surface water rescue, swift water rescue, ice rescue and underwater rescue and recovery.
A hazardous material (HM) is any one of thousands of chemicals, substances, or waste that if misused or released from its proper container ore packaging, poses an unreasonable risk to one’s health and safety, and the environment. These hazardous materials may be found in use in manufacturing facilities or in transit on the highway, railroad, waterway or air. Hazardous materials may even be found in the average home including such things as poisons, pesticides, fertilizers, corrosives, explosives, flammable and combustible liquids, and more.
CFFD routinely handles minor hazardous materials spills such as automotive antifreeze, fuels, and oils associated with motor vehicle crashes and other minor accidents. Larger HM releases and those of a greater threat to health and property require a response by the Summit County Hazardous Materials Response Team (SCHMRT). The SCHMRT is comprised of select individuals from most of the fire departments in Summit County. CFFD supports the SCHMRT with 5 of its members who undergo a minimum of 80 hours of training to be certified as a hazardous materials technician. Three response vehicles and the large amount of equipment required to support the team are owned and maintained by Summit County while the individual fire departments providing participating members bear the entire cost of the personnel required to handle HM responses and the ongoing training.
The responsibility of the SCHMRT is to analyze each HM incident and minimize its impact on both the health and safety of the citizens of Summit County and the environment. This is accomplished primarily through stoppage and containment of the HM release. On rare occasion, evacuation of citizens from areas likely to be affected by a HM release may be required. In lieu of evacuation, there may be times where an alternative to provide for citizen safety is accomplished by means of what is known as “protect-in-place” or PIP. PIP is indicated when a citizen’s safety is provided for by simply staying indoors, whether at home or at work. It will usually require keeping windows and doors shut and turning off the heating, air conditioning, and ventilation systems. Regardless, if you are informed of an accidental hazardous materials release in your community, tune to the local TV and radio stations, and follow the directions issued. Your cooperation will assist in providing for your safety as well as the safety of the community.
Hazardous Materials in the Home
You can do your part to reduce the impact of a hazardous materials release on the community, the environment, and your family by staying educated on the proper storage and disposal of household hazardous waste. Such materials as batteries, fluorescent bulbs, used antifreeze, oil- and water-based paints, cleaning and aerosol products, pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers may be properly disposed of at the Household Hazardous Waste Recycling Center (HHWRC) which is located at 1201 Graham Road (adjacent to Carter Lumber Company at Graham Road and State Route 8). Please visit our HHWRC site for information on dates/times of operation, a description of what household hazardous wastes will be accepted, and location/contact information. This outstanding resource for residents of Summit County is made possible by the Summit/Akron Solid Waste Management Authority (Yolanda Walker, Executive Director).