Kruse Village is perfect place to practice basement rescues

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Lake Oswego firefighters go into action while practicing a rescue operation at the building site of Kruse Village.

Rare opportunities lead to much better training for the Lake Oswego Fire Department.

That happened on April 6 to 8 when Gramor Development welcomed the firefighters for some specialized rescue training at a building with a basement on the site of Kruse Village, which is now seeing construction start on the corner of Carman Drive and Kruse Way. Forty firefighters were able to receive training over three days.

“It was the perfect property for this type of training,” said LOFD Battalion Chief Randy Hopkins, who serves as the department’s training officer. “It was great training for our fire department. The structure appeared to be a one-story building if you did not give it a 360 (degree) look.” The victim on the floor is actually LOFD trainiing officer Randy Hopkins. Firefighters got to realistically simulate conditions of a basement rescue.

The reason Hopkins believed this training was necessary for his department was the March 26 tragedy in Boston, Mass., when two firefighters died when they were trapped in a basement during a massive fire on Beacon Street.

The Lake Oswego firefighters were able to simulate a catastrophic situation and were challenged to find a new opening in a structure when smoke and fire closed the original entrance.

They also needed a simulated victim, and Hopkins, a veteran of 28 years with the LOFD, assigned that task to himself.

“I was the trapped firefighter,” Hopkins said. “I was limp and unconscious. I’m a pretty big guy at 205 pounds and with my gear I weigh about 275 pounds.”

Hopkins presented his fellow firefighters with plenty of practice, as they cut through the floor, dragged in a ladder, gave air to Hopkins and used the ladder as a stretcher to get him out of the building.

Of course, Hopkins got out of the basement OK, and the firefighters received some excellent training. Besides rescue operations, the LOFD practiced performing an offensive fire attack. They were also able to hone their skills in vertical ventilation and general firefighting practices.

“If something bad happened, how are we going to react to it?” Hopkins said. “We can pass the information we gain to crews coming in. To have a real structure was a great benefit for our firefighters’ safety and the public safety. You have to be prepared for the worst. We got to do everything we could do on a normal scene.”

Hopkins added, “I couldn’t be more happy with the way Gramor treated us.”

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