Harpersville firefighters drill for 40 hours

Meeting the LifeSaver helicopter, conducting a water rescue, cutting into a car with the &uot;Jaws of Life&uot; and extinguishing a car fire were all part of the Harpersville Volunteer Fire Department’s 40-hour lock-in drill.

The exercise began at 5 p.m. Friday, June 7 and ended at 9 a.m. Sunday June 9.

&uot;Anytime you can do drills on and prepare for life threatening situations, it is worthwhile,&uot; said Harpersville Fire Chief Shane Phillips.

On Saturday afternoon while awaiting the arrival of the LifeSaver helicopter based at Anniston Regional Medical Center, Harpersville volunteer firefighters responded to a brushfire involving 12 bales of hay off Dusty Way and a emergency call from pregnant woman who had gone into labor. Neither were part of the weekend’s drill.

The LifeSaver helicopter arrived near Perk’s Barbecue where a Fun Day featuring music and antique cars was also under way. And the arrival of the helicopter quickly drew a crowd of spectators.

The LifeSaver crew that arrived Saturday included Emergency Medical Technician Ray Thacker, Registered Nurse Lisa Worthington and pilot Carlos Brzobohaty.

Thacker explained that the 1994 Bell 206 Long Ranger helicopter can reach speeds of 120 miles per hour, has a range of 150 miles out or 300 miles round trip and carries one patient at a time.

The emergency medical aircraft is also 42-foot long with rotors of 37 feet in length.

Thacker explained that the LifeSaver Crew remains in contact with a doctor at all times and transport serious trauma patients to the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The registered nurse on board, Worthington, said she is authorized to administered narcotic drugs to patients if necessary.

Thacker said any first responder can contact the LifeSaver helicopter at 1-800-292-8133.

Later in the day, Phillips said volunteer firefighters conducted a mock water rescue at a local pool.

But the highlight of the day were drills featuring the &uot;Jaws of Life&uot; cutting device to cut open a Buick Regal and the detonation and extinguishing of a Hyundai. Both vehicles were donated by Middleton’s Wrecker Service and were the subject of drills at J.W. Donahoo Municipal Park.

Brian Underwood, a Harpersville volunteer firefighter and EMT said the Harpersville volunteers drill a lot with cars because of air bags and shock absorbent bumpers which can explode off the front of vehicle injuring or costing the lives of firefighters.

Chief Phillips said of the drills carried out by his men, &uot;I’d much rather mistakes be made here (during a drill) than in the middle of Highway 280.&uot;

Participating in the volunteer drill exercises on Saturday were Todd Easter, Sharod Kelley, Barry Adair, Kit Barnes, Creed McDaniel, Max Roper, Shane Phillips, Jim Roper, Jason Watson, Brian Underwood and Michael Barnett