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The UT Center for Industrial Services (CIS) took to the air in March by conducting a five-day ropes rescue training course for the City of Pigeon Forge Fire Department.
This course is one of the many diverse offerings in the health and safety field. Participants spent the entire week doing rescue simulations at popular tourist attractions in the area such as Dollywood. Because safety is a huge concern, the class started out with a refresher of simple knots and safety procedures. After the refresher, participants took off at full speed, repelling and lowering practice victims in rescue baskets. The class turned the Tennessee Tornado into a massive jungle gym, climbing to the top of the largest inversion loop. This was no small task because climbers were required to swing themselves over the structure to switch sides on the way back down.
Although none of the simulations was meant to specifically train the firefighters for rescues at the theme park, Dollywood saw this as a win-win opportunity. Not only did the firefighters learn the ins and outs of the theme park, but also due to the sheer size of the equipment, they were able to simulate virtually every rescue situation the firefighters might face.
These trainings are required every two years, but the Pigeon Forge Fire Department conducts them annually due in part to the availability of CIS training.
“Any technical-level class you don’t want to wait to refresh yourself on that, we think,” explained Captain Chris Knutsen. “CIS always provides the highest level of training which helps us stay current on our skills. We are looking forward to Walter Idol coming back for our confined space training.”
This is Captain Chad Ross’s second ropes training with CIS.
“We like that they are able to come to our department to do the training. Before working with CIS, we all used to do training separately, so we rarely had the same classes. Having the whole department train together just makes sense. These are the guys I will be doing the rescues with, we should learn and practice together,” Ross said. Ross also said that since the skills build upon each other, working with CIS helps them tailor the training to get the most from the class.
The weeklong class wrapped up with a swift-water rescue simulation where they brought all their skills together in a very realistic rescue. Pigeon Forge firefighters serve as first responders on emergency calls, so it is imperative they be prepared for any rescue situation.