Saturday, November 02, 2013

Milford Fire Department receives training to prep for aviation accidents

Melanie Folcik, program coordinator for Redline Elements, gives a presentation on the workings of aircraft controls to Milford firefighters recently. 
Peter Casolino — New Haven Register

Milford firefighters listen to a presentation by Redline Elements at the Milford fire headquarters recently. 
Peter Casolino — New Haven Register

MILFORD >> In the wake of a fatal plane crash in East Haven in August, the Milford Fire Department is implementing training on aviation emergencies, impacts and injuries. 

 “The city is in the direct flight path of Sikorsky Airport and Sikorsky Helicopter,” Chief Doug Edo said. “The benefit of this training would be to provide a general understanding of what to and not to do if a plane or helicopter were to crash in our city.”

Edo wants to make sure his department is aware of how to respond to best protect the citizens in Milford should this type of emergency present itself.

Firefighters in Milford were offered six opportunities to receive this training. The first four trainings took place in late October, while the final sessions will be held Tuesday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Edo said all personnel will be involved in the training.

“Training in our department is extremely important and constantly evolving due to new technologies being introduced into the world,” Edo said.

To provide the training, the department brought in Redline Elements, an outside agency which is run by program coordinator Melanie Folcik.

In 2009, Folcik said, she saw a void in emergency responders training for various situations. One aspect of her company provides emergency responders with training for aviation accidents.

“I noticed a niche that there wasn’t any training on how to respond to aviation accidents,” Folcik said. “Responders didn’t know how to shut down an airplane or respond to the injuries sustained during aviation accidents.”

Folcik put together a presentation that includes a range of information that would better prepare emergency responders to deal with an aviation accident.

Folcik said she has done this training primarily in Florida thus far because the program is still new, but she has two other fire departments in Connecticut that have signed up to receive the training.

When attending the training, Milford firefighters learned about different types of aircrafts, the various parts and hazards that could be a part of the different pieces should the aircraft crash, as well as what unique injuries are sustained during an aviation accident.

Lt. Gavin O’Brien, who took the training last month, said it was excellent and very informative for an array of situations.

“It gives us the basic things that we need to know how to do,” O’Brien said. “We have a range of issues we may need to deal with in Milford, whether it is railroads, water-related, roadways or from the two airports we have close by.”

Edo said the sessions are held in addition to all the training already provided to firefighters.

“Our department is very aggressive in all aspects of fire service,” Edo said. “Over the past 20 years, the fire service has changed. Our department is not only performing firefighting duties and is highly trained in firefighting, our personnel respond to a vast amount of different emergency calls.”

Edo said some of these range from basic medial and traumatic emergencies; car, tractor-trailer and bus accidents; trains, passenger and freight emergencies; and as boating and swimming incidents.

The Milford department is not alone in preparing its firefighters for aviation accidents. East Haven Fire Department Chief Doug Jackson said town firefighters are trained every year and receive full-scale training every three years.

“Since we have an airport in our district, we have to do it since anybody with commercial service, to comply with FAA standards, you have to do it every year,” Jackson said.

A table-top exercise where a discussion of these types of incidents is discussed is held every year and every third year; Jackson said they invite all personnel who would be involved in aviation accidents to participate in a full-scale field exercise where they are working on an aircraft.

Jackson said the table-top discussions and full-scale exercises include hospital personnel, the FBI, the police department, TSA, traffic control personnel and FAA inspectors, among other personnel.

Both Jackson and Edo stressed the importance of such trainings for emergency responders.

“What happened in East Haven, we are right in line with Sikorsky, there have been incidents in Long Island Sound in the past,” Milford Fire Department Capt. Kyle Brotherton said. “It is better to be prepared than underprepared, proactive rather than reactive.”


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