Training exercises for fire departments

Practice makes perfect - this is especially true for the rescue missions of the fire departments when there has been a truck accident. The firefighters often face tremendous challenges – most of the time, heavy equipment is needed to rescue the occupants in the truck cabs. How quickly they succeed can make the difference between life and death.

Michael Brunner, 37 years old and squad leader with the Schwaig Fire Department near Nuremberg, is also the training officer for technical aid at the district level in the Nuremberg region. He has been a firefighter for 25 years and during his career with the voluntary fire department has mastered many demanding situations. This time, he is at the end of an exciting but relaxed training day: He had the opportunity to practice occupant rescue on a truck in Woerth, Baden, and expand his expert knowledge. "Only five percent of the times we respond to a traffic accident does it involve a truck. Unlike in car accidents, there is a lack of routine and practice of the frequently life-saving measures. Every move must be well planned and nonetheless be made quickly to save the occupants. The training day has tremendously expanded my knowledge regarding truck rescue."

The truck rescue training was organized by Daimler. It was made possible at all by the initiative of the donations unit, which together with the Central Used-Vehicle Marketing Exchange and Commercial Vehicle Accident Research had revived this event after a longer hiatus.

Four trucks were available to the 24 firefighters for training purposes at the Woerth production site. Under the professional guidance of the team from Daimler Commercial Vehicle Accident Research, they were able to practise various cutting techniques on the vehicles extensively. Without time being of the essence, they used heavy rescue equipment to pry and cut in order to get into the truck cabs as fast as possible. They shared their experiences with experts and comrades and were able to deepen their knowledge in the field of vehicle, cutting and rescue technology. They learned to recognize danger spots and employ suitable protective measures to defuse them. Crash test films clearly demonstrated the resulting forces and deformations to be able to better assess the situation in a real-life rescue.

Fire departments rarely have the opportunity to practice on real trucks. Contrary to passenger cars, the transport and handling of damaged cabs or whole trucks is very complicated and expensive and it is very difficult to procure vehicles. Voluntary fire departments often have only little specialized practical experience when they are called to truck accidents. Due to the design height of truck cabs, the firefighters have to work on rescue platforms. The heavy rescue equipment sometimes has to be held and operated at shoulder height or overhead. And the rescue of the occupants from this height also requires special care. There are other special circumstances as well: The components of a commercial vehicle are heavier than those of a passenger car due to their sheer size. It is also possible that the cab is only loosely attached after a collision and must be secured to prevent additional dangers. A great responsibility for which the firefighters need to train in special courses.

Daimler Commercial Vehicle Accident Research has been analyzing accidents of Mercedes-Benz trucks throughout Germany since 1970. Some 30 vehicles are examined annually. Additional rescue training is to be offered in future.

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