Firefighters and EMT personnel are the first to arrive on any call, putting their lives on the line to save others. On the weekend of August 3, 2018, their skills were put to the test to further train for any of those calls, as part of the ever-popular Battle in the Gorge.
The competition, whose history goes as far back as the 1970’s, prioritized simulation and mastering the basics as the best methods of preparation. “Battle” secretary Tracey Corbin echoed those two feats are a must for first responders to carry out their task.
“You have to build from that,” Corbin said. “If you can’t do those muscle-memory, without any hesitation… then your entire work plan is weak.”
Emergency personnel from all over the region have praised the strategy, including Lt. R.C. Fellows of Ohio.
“It’s like we’re going out on a run with our fire department,” Fellows said. “You mentally prepare and we just go.”
For the last four years, Fellows and his colleagues have been drawing parallels from the Battle in the Gorge to the calls they receive, especially from the Top Gun challenge.
“[The challenge] can be very complex with the ropes and the rigging,” Fellows said.
Corbin said the Top Gun challenge is the hardest rescue, incorporating the most advanced medicine in the same scenario. The 2018 rendition called for a vertical rescue of two parachutists within a 40-minute time limit.
“There are some nerves, but it’s not like super jittery,” Fellows said. “We’re going out there and doing our job. We’re doing what we trained for.”
Both emergency personnel and competition organizers believe this is a perfect preparation for the unpredictable.
“It just keeps making us better rescuers for the people that we serve,” Fellows said.
“What if these things we’re doing here… are the call they’re on this month?” Corbin said. “They’ve seen someone do it properly… That just makes them better.”