With hours of training behind them and hours remaining yet ahead, full-time and volunteer firefighters at Eastern Wake Fire and Rescue are now certified for rescues that normally would take special Raleigh crews to assist.
“When I came on board in 2013, we wanted to target a plan to fulfill our name ‘(Eastern Wake) Fire and Rescue,’” Chief David Cates said.
The NC Association of Rescue and EMS certification as “Heavy Rescue Provider” is the highest certification among rescue agencies, which the department pursued to meet growth in the eastern Wake area head on.
Heavy rescue training improves responses to major wrecks. Although wrecks have increased with U.S. 264/64, Cates pointed out that rural roads have become more dangerous as drivers easily cross center lines while texting.
Along with training, which is ongoing, the department purchased equipment within the past 18 months, including a rescue trailer that holds equipment such as a battery-operated “jaws of life,” saws and other hand tools.
Another benefit is that their training caters to rescues along Knightdale’s 14 miles of greenway trails – and the increased recreational use of the Neuse river as a result. The department is prepared to tackle the greenway and river with a large ATV capable of carrying someone off the trail, an inflatable raft and a inflatable rescue boat.
“You’d be surprised how many bike wrecks we respond to,” said Eastern Wake firefighter Timothy Guffey Jr. “We went out 4-5 times in the last year and a half.”
He added that now the department is capable of handling a lot of rescues without needing to call another heavy rescue department, or, initiating the rescue capably while waiting for other departments come to assist.
The department also achieved its agricultural rescue certification – training that assists firefighters to respond to emergencies with heavy machinery, including entering silos – and is currently working toward water rescue certification.
“It’s a voluntary standard,” Cates said. “We thought it was worth meeting.”