From the outside that’s what it looked like — a bunch of grown men cutting apart old cars and trucks.
But take a closer look. These guys, most of them volunteers, were all business Saturday at the Huron County Fairgrounds for the annual Northern Ohio Fools’ Heavy Rescue 101 hands-on training for firefighters. Fools stands for Fraternal Order of Leatherheads Society.
The training began Friday night in the classroom then picked back up Saturday on the infield of the grandstands. Firefighters from across the country joined in the training, gaining important, life-saving training they wouldn’t normally be able to get in a traditional classroom setting.
It was a perfect kickoff to first responders week, which started Monday. Look for Zoe Greszler’s stories this week about first responders and the important jobs they have protecting us.
Kenny Dresser of the Northern Ohio Fools talked about the importance of the training.
“About 175 guys here,” Dresser said, adding some were from as far away as Wisconsin and Canada.
“Today we are out here doing hands-on ... things we talked about last night. We have instructors from all over coming in.”
Dresser said you can spend all the time in the world in the classroom, but there is nothing like going out and getting your hands dirty.
“You definitely have to be hands-on,” he said. “You can read it in a book, but there is no learning like getting your hands on and using it, seeing it, working it.
“The good things out here today is we try things. We have ideas in our heads and we say, ‘Let’s try this.’ If it works, great, if not OK; we know out in the real-world scenerio let’s not try that, or let’s try that.”
There were 10 work sites — six basic stations and four advanced stations.
The advanced stations were for the veterans in more challenging extacation situations, while the basic stations were for the younger guys — some who have never had one of tools in their hands.
There also was a station where a man (dummy) was stuck in a farm machine.
“That started out there actually was a farm accident in the North Fairfield-Willard area this winter,” Dresser said. “A guy got stuck in the corn head. It was kind of one of those deals; it was a learn-on-the-fly thing at the moment. Instead of that happening again, we took it upon us to get out and educate the people what we can do if that situation happens again.”
Situations like that don’t happen often — if ever — but if they do these guys will be prepared.
Thanks to all of our first responders.
Joe Centers is Reflector managing editor. He can be reached at [email protected]