Vent, Enter, Search Reward In Illinois

Illinois department has an amazing payoff when they use a recently practiced tactic.

On Tuesday morning, in Decatur Illinois, Susan Berg was woken by the sounds of crackling fire and her smoke detector. Making her way through the living room, she was prevented from reaching her 15-month old son by fire extending from the kitchen. Susan fled out the front of the house. As a neighbor dialed 911 fire had consumed the living room.

Unable to get in to rescue her son, Decatur firefighters took over,

“”I was pounding with my fist,” Berg said. “I couldn’t punch hard enough to make a break. I tried to find a rock or brick to break the window. About that time the fire department arrived. The fire department went in and got him.”

Employing a technique they had first practiced in training sessions last month, one firefighter broke a window and entered the room while another stood outside.

The baby, who was unresponsive, was handed to another firefighter who stood outside the bedroom window.

Berg heard the firefighters shout, “He’s out, he’s out, he’s out.”

That firefighter quickly handed the baby to two other firefighters, who resuscitated the baby. After the Caleb showed signs of life, he was taken by ambulance to Decatur Memorial Hospital. He was later transferred by helicopter to St. John’s Hospital in Springfield.

“The guys did an outstanding job,” said Decatur Fire Chief Matt Sekosky, adding that there are not too many opportunities for firefighters to perform rescues.”
“Firefighters Rescue Baby from Burning Home”, October 12, 2010 [bold mine]

When we speak about VES we imagine one or two members of a ladder company making entry to an upper floor via ground ladder and porch roof. In the Decatur fire, the firefighters performed the same method although without the need of ladders. Surely the presence of the Mrs. Berg outside her young son’s window is a great benefit also, but what we particularly find impressive is the immediate payoff that comes with training. Vent, enter search is not a new tactic, but rather quite old. Many misconceptions about it are that you need a dedicated ladder company or that it is too dangerous to attempt. I’ve read many comments that oppose VES saying that it places firefighters in the direction of the fire’s extension, or in between the fire and nozzle team (yeah, I scratched my head on that one too) or that it promoted freelancing and no firefighter should be operation alone.

Fortunately, when taught properly and practiced regularly, VES is a compliment to your overall fire attack. I want to emphasize some nuggets that are in this story. In 2009 the Decatur Fire Department responded to 131 structure fires, down from 150 in 2008. They operate seven engine companies, three ladder companies (one tower and two ladders) and a squad. Station staffing in 2009 was done by 112 firefighters, in three shifts, among nine stations. The department manages a very popular cadet program that graduates a yearly maximum of 100 students and has a waiting list. In an age when most training is directed towards the latest trends we often see repeated requests for “getting back to the basics.” Think of every trade show you’ve been to and each one you are considering next year and among the topics listed are ‘Engine Company Operations’ and ‘Truck Company Operations’. Despite the hype about technical rescue, mass casualty, explosive devices and other random events, fighting fire is as basic as we will be. It involves teaching and re-teaching the basics and learning your department’s capabilities and limitations. The number of fires you go to may be dropping, but that is no excuse for not continually training.

“They had just completed training on the procedure last month; the department employed it for the first time during Tuesday’s fire.”

Keep training. It pays off.

Traditions Training “Controlling the Sill”

DCFD OVM Footage, Training Commentary

Decatur Firefighters Rescue, Revive Infant During House Fire,
Decatur, IL Fire Department
Vent Enter
“One Trapped On The Second Floor”, Traditions Training, 2009

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