Some of you reading this may remember that old ad campaign slogan. For those who don’t, it advertised Memorex recording tape (yes, back in the day, we recorded sound on audio tape) and asked the listener to decide if they were hearing a live performance, or one recorded on tape that sounded just as good.
The way you could always tell if it was Memorex was that there was no bozo standing next to you flicking his cigarette lighter and shouting “Freebird!”
The point is, some things need to be as close to real as possible. That’s why the Damage Prevention Councils of Texas use the Mock Line Strike, in collaboration with Enertech. It covers a complete excavation lifecycle from making the one-call, line locating, proper excavation tactics, line strike and emergency operator response to the line strike. The forum is always set on an excavation site and representatives from each stakeholder group speak on each topic during the excavation lifecycle. You can read more about them here: http://www.mocklinestrike.com/
These scripted scenarios provide as close as possible a look at what happens when a gas line is ruptured, down to injured (or killed) workers, first responder rescues and even helicopter landings.
The most recent one was held in Pearsall, in South Texas. The Border Damage Prevention Council hosted a one day fair that included health screenings, foods prepared on site, vendor displays and of course the Mock Line Strike scenario – which came complete with its own music soundtrack in the background!
It should come as no surprise that with the mind-numbing physical requirements put on first responders that the number one cause of firefighter death in Texas and across the nation is cardiac related. To help draw attention to this, and to pump up enthusiasm for heart-healthy habits, the first ever First-In Firefighter Challenge was held in conjunction with the Pearsall event.
The Firefighter Challenge brought together members of the Leon Valley FD, Hondo FD, Dilley FD, Webb County FD and Pearsall FD. Some of these units are volunteer, while others are paid, but that distinction made no difference during the heated competition.
The obstacle course included a 60 pound hose pack carry, driving a sledge, extending and hauling fully charged hose then releasing the nozzle to hit a ping pong paddle target. Firefighters then did a crawl through a marked out area simulating the inside of a house, then had to move a 175 pound dummy to a position of safety. Finally, the firefighters climbed a watch tower and rang a bell at the top to end the course.
It’s worth noting that the temperature in Pearsall that day was over 90 degrees in the shade, and approaching 100 out in the open – and these firefighters did it all in full bunker gear and wearing SCBA units.
When the final sweating, lifting, running, crawling and hose handling was done, the winning fire departments were Hondo for a volunteer unit, and Leon Valley for a paid unit.
Showing how first responders attack a gas line rupture, and also helping to keep them in shape in case they ever have to put that knowledge to good use. That’s the role of the Damage Prevention Councils of Texas. Learn more at: http://dpcoftexas.org
Until next week, safe digging!