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Serving beyond the flames | Knox County Rural Metro Fire trains new rescue tactics

The Knox County Rural Metro Fire Department has members with extra training and credentials to help in unique or unusual operations.

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — A Knox County fire department is adding another tool to its belt. The Rural Metro Fire Department adding extra training and credentials to be able to expand its services. Firefighters are getting hands-on training simulating a rescue operation.

Firefighters don't just run into fires, they have to prepare for several different scenarios. Lt. Jeremiah McLeod is leading the team in several rescue tactics.

"Rope rescue, water rescue, trench, confined space, structural collapse. We want to make them proficient at that," he said.

Rural Metro Firefighters practiced the confined space rescue training as they hoisted crews down a shaft to rescue someone who either fell or passed out in the shaft. McLeod said a lot of things can happen in a confined space rescue including hazards in the atmosphere, explosives, and oxygen deficiency.

Staying at the top of their game means going a level below, or more. McLeod said that knowing the gear and putting it to the test is key to a successful rescue.

"If I get my hands on the equipment, I understand the equipment better as opposed to having to get the equipment when you need it," McLeod said.

Rural Metro Fire Department crews will continue this training on a regular basis. Officials said they would incorporate more training to provide more services to the area.

“There’s a lot of confined spaces, a lot of trenchworks, things we will be more proficient at in the future,” Capt. Jeff Bagwell said. “You can paint the picture. A worker goes into a confined space and is overcome, maybe they’re not using the proper equipment, maybe they’re having an emergency and they need to be brought out using the skills that we are teaching, that we are learning today.”  

This type of training is new to the department and Capt. Jeff Bagwell said it is important to have when factoring in the growth and development taking place across the county.

“Someone gets trapped down a hole or a ravine, that’s where this equipment comes in handy,” Bagwell said. “We want the community to feel confident in knowing that the folks that are coming to save them have trained and trained a lot.”

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