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Back In Beaumont for Industrial Rescue I/II

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Here’s an “ON THE ROAD” segment by Roco Chief Instructor and Director of Training, Dennis O’Connell.

I just got back from Beaumont, Texas, where I taught our new 50-hour Industrial Rescue I/II. In this class, we focus on preparing responders for the unique challenges of industrial rescue – whether you’re a member of an industrial team or a municipal firefighter who may respond to plants or manufacturing facilities.

And if you’ve taken ROCO classes in the past couple of years, you know we’re constantly updating our techniques and equipment as we try to find safer and more efficient ways to do rescue.

It’s been a number of years since ROCO has conducted training in Beaumont and it was good to be back. The BEST Complex offers excellent facilities for industrial and municipal emergency response training – both in firefighting and rescue. The multiple confined space props and 6-story training tower make it an ideal place to conduct high angle and confined space rescue classes. These training props give students realistic anchoring and industrial confined space rescue situations that enhance the techniques taught during the class.

Roco’s Industrial Rescue I/II class provides rescue skills and techniques to handle the vast majority of rescues a team would face in a plant or refinery. The class covers both inert rescue procedures as well as on-air IDLH entry rescue. The first three days are dedicated to skills and techniques while the last two include a variety of scenario-based exercises using the skills learned. One of the nice things about the Beaumont facility is the ability to practice rescues from all six types of confined spaces as referenced in OSHA 1910.146 as well as practicing rescue from height which is often overlooked during confined space training.

This particular class consisted of a mix of firefighters and industrial plant and refinery workers – some brand new to the rescue world and others with a lot of experience. Some of the more experienced rescuers took the class as a “back to basics” review and to meet their annual “confined space types practice” for the year. However, even the experienced rescuers in the class found a few new ways to use the equipment and get the job done.

Most of the students were from the local Beaumont-Port Arthur area, but we did have students from other parts of Texas and some as far away as Alaska. I think the Alaskans were ready to head back to the “minus 30 degree” weather north of the Arctic Circle after experiencing a week of temperatures hovering around 100 degrees!
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Roco Teams Up with BEST in Southeast Texas

Monday, June 20, 2011

Roco Rescue, Inc. and the Beaumont Emergency Services Training Complex (BEST Complex) have announced a partnership to deliver more options in rescue training for fire departments and industry.

In addition to open-enrollment rescue training, Roco’s private courses will also be available.

Upcoming Roco events scheduled at BEST include:

Oct 5-6,  2011 – Rescue Challenge
Dec 5-8, 2011 – Rescue IV-Advanced Rescue Scenarios

The partnership marks a return for Roco to the Southeast Texas facility. For many years, BEST (the former Beaumont Fire/Rescue Training Center) provided a great venue for Roco’s rope rescue and confined space training programs. The location is convenient and economical for many clients in the Texas industrial corridor and surrounding states.

Based on the early success of the partnership, both Roco and BEST say they will be adding more dates and courses to the 2012 open-enrollment training schedule. New offerings will include Confined Space, High Angle, Structural Collapse and Trench Rescue. This will provide additional training options for municipal and industrial rescue teams in the area. It’s a win-win-win.

For more information about Roco training at the BEST facility, contact  Aimee Sims at Roco (800-647-7626).
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Manhole Rescue Effort Ends in 2 Deaths

Friday, June 17, 2011

Authorities are investigating the suffocation of two North Carolina workers in a water system manhole—one of whom apparently died trying to rescue the other.

The victims were employees of Triangle Grading and Paving Inc., a Burlington NC-based utility contractor that has been cited dozens of times for federal health and safety violations.

In 1997, a company employee burned to death on a job. Luis Castaneda Gomez, 34, of Durham, and Jesus Martinez Benitez, 32, of Clayton, perished in the accident about 6 p.m. EDT Tuesday (June 7) in a section of water system under construction off U.S. 70. The men had been laying water lines in the system, near the Durham-Wake County line.

Lack of Oxygen Note


North Carolina’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating.

Officials are not sure what happened, but the local fire department and county hazmat team that responded to the scene found that the 12-foot-deep hole had insufficient oxygen to sustain life, said Capt. Don Ladd of the Durham County Sheriff’s Office. They donned breathing equipment to bring the men out.

Rescue workers recover the bodies of two men who suffocated in a manhole in Durham, NC. “What you’ve got down in the bottom [of the hole] is any number of things—whatever is connected to that manhole, could be methane gas or could be any number of things—that would cause oxygen deprivation,” said Allen McNeely, deputy director of NC DOSH.

The men were in a shaft that goes down 12 to 14 feet, then leads into a 4-by-6-foot bunker where several water pipes come together, Ladd said.

911 Call Released


Authorities believe that either Gomez or Benitez was having trouble breathing, or was unconscious, in the hole and the other went down to help him before he, too, suffocated.

A third worker at the site flagged down a passing motorist to call 911. According to a tape of the 911 call, the pair had been in the hole for about 15 minutes and were unconscious when the motorist arrived.

The third worker said he had dropped off Gomez and Benitez 30 to 45 minutes earlier to retrieve some equipment and returned to find both men in the shaft, not moving, Ladd said.

The men were pronounced dead at the scene.

Company Responds


Triangle Grading & Paving installs large and small sanitary sewer, water lines, storm sewer, pump stations and vacuum sanitary systems. The company released this statement Wednesday:

“Triangle Grading and Paving grieves with the families of Jesus Martinez and Luis Gomez, two valued members of our utility division who lost their lives in an accident at one of our projects yesterday.

“We take great pride in our safety and education programs at Triangle. We do everything in our power to prevent injuries and deaths in a dangerous occupation. Over the past three years, we have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to ensure the safety of hundreds of employees.

“Yesterday, a deadly incident occurred in spite of those efforts, and we are now cooperating with the North Carolina Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Division’s investigation of this matter and conducting our own investigation as well. Because our investigation is ongoing, we will not have further comment about this today.”

Extensive OSHA History


Triangle Paving has an extensive record with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The company has been cited 68 times for violations since 1997—most of the charges, if not all, significantly reduced in severity and monetary penalties before settlement.

The company settled three cases with OSHA in the first three months of 2011, two cases in 2010, and four in 2009. Still pending is a 2010 case involving one willful and two serious violations. A willful violation is OSHA’s highest level of infraction and carries major penalties.

In that case, the company was fined $57,000 for failing to protect workers from cave-ins while they labored in an eight-foot trench at a project on Fort Bragg. The fine has tentatively been reduced to $40,000, but the case remains open.

“Triangle Grading and Paving has a history of trenching violations and is fully aware of required safety standards to protect its workers,” Suzanne Street, OSHA’s area director in Raleigh, said last year in announcing the fines.

“This employer continues to put workers at risk by ignoring these safety standards.”

In 1997, an employee of Triangle burned to death after a hydraulic line on the bulldozer he was operating ruptured and the fluid triggered a fire that engulfed the cab. The company paid $3,300 in fines for poor maintenance, infrequent inspections, and inadequate training.

Record Not Checked


Asked by a local NBC affiliate how Triangle continued to operate with such a checkered safety record, a North Carolina Department of Labor official replied: “We’re not in the business of putting people out of business, but we are in the business of making sure that it’s a safe working environment that workers work in.”

In Tuesday’s accident, DOL is investigating whether the company followed training, equipment and other requirements for working in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation, said department spokesman Neal O’Briant.

Jerry Morrone, Durham Engineering Supervisor, told the NBC affiliate that the city had not known about Triangle’s safety record. Morrone said his department had checked “at least three” references but had not checked DOL records. He said none of the references mentioned Triangle’s safety record.

“It is a tragedy,” McNeely told the Charlotte News Observer. “If it turns out that it was one worker going in, and the other went in to save him when he got no response, then it’s almost what you’d expect a buddy to do.”
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Roco Instructor receives US Marshals Officer of the Year Award

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Cop receives national award from U.S. Marshals for response to August shooting.

We are very proud to announce that Roco Chief Instructor Terry Addison was awarded “Law Enforcement Officer of the Year” from the US Marshals Service last week in Washington, DC.

The Director’s Honorary Awards are given to recognize employees who perform in an exemplary manner and give dedicated service to the missions of the Marshals Service. A Director’s Award is the highest award given by the United States Marshals Service. In addition to teaching for Roco, Terry works for both the South Salt Lake City Fire and Police Departments. Congratulations, Terry, we are very proud of you!

To read the story in The Salt Lake Tribune click here.

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Trench Collapse Fatality: Las Vegas, NM

Friday, June 03, 2011

What does getting struck by a pickup traveling 45 mph and being in the path of a trench wall collapse have in common? The outcome is typically not going to be positive…

A six cubic yard section of trench wall that collapses into an 8 foot deep trench has the weight and speed of a full size pickup traveling 45 mph.

These forces are the reason why a proactive and compliant trench safety program is paramount to your safety as a worker or as a rescuer!

Unfortunately, there was another tragic incident last week in Las Vegas, New Mexico, in which two workers were killed following a trench cave-in. Dirt buried 49-year-old Frank Romero and 32-year-old Gene Hern. The men were installing sewer and water lines in the 8 to 10 foot deep trench. City spokesperson Dave Romero says other workers frantically tried to dig the men out but didn’t make it to them in time. Hern and Romero were pronounced dead on the scene by medical officials.

This serves as another reminder of how important it is to be trained in the proper precautions and dangers of trenches and excavations. Once it happens, it’s too late, there’s no time to prepare. As a first responder, be aware when this type work is going on in your district or response area – don’t take chances, know how to protect yourself. And, if you’re involved with the project from the beginning, preplan each job with the utmost precaution.

According to OSHA, excavation and trenching are among the most hazardous construction operations. This type work presents serious hazards to all workers involved. Cave-ins pose the greatest risk and are much more likely than other excavation-related accidents to result in worker fatalities. Other potential hazards include falls, falling loads, hazardous atmospheres, and incidents involving mobile equipment. The regulation that covers requirements for excavation and trenching operations is OSHA 1926.650.

What’s the difference between an excavation and a trench?
OSHA defines an excavation as any man-made cut, cavity, trench, or depression in the earth’s surface formed by earth removal. This can include excavations for anything from cellars to highways. A trench is defined as a narrow underground excavation that is deeper than it is wide, and no wider than 15 feet (4.5 meters).

Why is it important to preplan the excavation work?
No matter how many trenching, shoring, and back-filling jobs you have done in the past, it is important to approach each new job with the utmost care and preparation. Many on-the-job accidents result directly from inadequate initial planning. Waiting until after the work has started to correct mistakes in shoring or sloping slows down the operation, adds to the cost, and increases the possibility of a cave-in or other excavation failure.

A big part of being safe, is being prepared. Knowing as much as possible about the job or work site and the materials or equipment needed is a best practice. Here are a few things OSHA recommends you consider about the site.

        1. Traffic
        2. Proximity and physical conditions of nearby structures
        3. Soil
        4. Surface and ground water
        5. Location of the water table
        6. Overhead and underground utilities
        7. Weather  conditions

OSHA Excavation and Trenching Standard applies to all open excavations made in the earth’s surface, including trenches. Strict compliance with all sections of the standard will greatly reduce the risk of cave-ins as well as other excavation-related accidents. See the resource below to learn more.
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