Breckenridge Texan

Wayland VFD practices saving lives during rescue training exercise

Wayland VFD practices saving lives during rescue training exercise
December 21
09:34 2020

By Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

On a recent Saturday morning, members of the Wayland Volunteer Fire Department, dressed in full firefighting gear, gathered around an old car behind the department’s station. Before they were finished, they would break out the glass from the car’s windows, pry out the front windshield, cut off the front doors and peel back the roof. They would then carefully remove a life-size dummy from the driver seat of the car using a backboard. It was all designed to provide the firefighters with hands-on training for rescuing victims trapped in a car crash.

“Training gets you familiar with the tools, gets it where you don’t have to think when you’re actually having to work on a rescue,” said Breckenridge Fire Chief Calvin Chaney “It’s just second hand; you just do it.”

Chaney, along with Breckenridge firefighter Brett Chaney, was in Wayland to provide the department’s firefighters with hands-on training using hydraulic rescue tools and other tools. He said the Breckenridge Fire Department’s firefighters get a lot of experience using that type of equipment because they have lot of calls on vehicle wrecks.

Breckenridge Fire Chief Calvin Chaney directs Wayland volunteer firefighters as they prepare to remove a door car during a training rescue training exercise on Saturday, Dec. 5. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

The training was a good way for the Wayland firefighters to get their hands on using the equipment and try out rescue techniques they probably hadn’t done before. “It just makes sure that when they need it, it’s not a second guess, they can do it without having to think about anything,” Calvin Chaney said.

Firefighter Brian Rogers with the Wayland VFD, who was on hand for the training, agreed.

“One of the shortfalls we have here is we don’t do a lot of accidents, or are mainly support on that side,” he said. “But training like this with Calvin coming and showing us everything he knows, I mean, a vast amount of knowledge, right there. He gave us some very basic understanding of very basic principles, everything we need to do, what we can do, what we can’t do, what we should do, what we shouldn’t do, and different things like that.”

Rogers said another important part of the hands-on training is confidence building for the firefighters. He said that, with the training, if they do get in a situation where they have to rescue someone from a car, they will know how to use the tools and be confident using them.

“I was able to see a difference (in confidence) from the time they started the training this morning, a big difference,” he said after the training on Dec. 5. “The first car was a struggle, us not using our tools enough was one thing. Second car went a lot smoother.”

The two cars used in the training were provided to WVFD by John Brower and Curtis Duggan.

Getting a feel for the tools

By actually getting to use the tools in the training, the firefighters got a feel for how heavy the rescue tools are and how difficult it can be to use them. “There’s a lot of weight in those rescue tools, lots of weight. And a lot of people don’t understand how heavy the tools are,” Rogers said.

Chaney said the tools weigh about 35 or 40 pounds and, if you have to use them for an extended period, they can become pretty heavy. But, he said, in a real situation a lot of times firefighters don’t notice it because their adrenaline’s pumping.

A Wayland volunteer firefighter uses a hydraulic cutter to cut the roof off a car during a rescue training exercise at the fire station. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

During the training exercises, the firefighters used a cutter, a spreader, and a hydraulic ram to cut the car apart. Rogers said the department has had the tools for a while and had received them through a Texas A&M Forest Service grant.

In addition to having to deal with the weight of the tools, Chaney said, when firefighters are extracting a victim from a vehicle, the victim’s body weight becomes a factor too, because firefighters often have to rescue a person weighing 150 to 200 pounds or more.

So in order to make the training scenario more realistic, during the training exercise they put a realistic female dummy that weighed 185 pounds in the driver seat of the car.

“It’s like a real body,” Rogers said. “But it’s also considered more of a dead weight. When you get to a accident or somebody’s unconscious, you know, that’s what you’re dealing with.”

Rogers said the department has three life-like training dummies, a woman, man and an infant, along with two CPR dummies they can use to practice CPR on, that were purchased with a training grant from the Texas A&M Forest Service.

Wayland firefighters remove a windshield from a car during a rescue training exercise at the fire station on Saturday, Dec. 5. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Hazards to firefighters on scene

 Another important part of the training Chaney provided was making the firefighters aware of the hazards they may face when they are working a crash scene on a highway.

“Our biggest danger out there is traffic,” Chaney said. “People are wanting to see what’s going on with a wreck or who’s involved. They’re not paying attention to us or the other rescuers out there. That could be the police, a trooper, anybody like that. That’s probably the highest hazard we have.”

Other hazards include the sharp edges that are left behind when parts of a car are cut off. He also said when they cut off a car door, they need to make sure it doesn’t fall on a firefighter’s foot.

“You have to make sure your feet are clear, you know, because it will cut your toes right off,” he said.  “It’s super-sharp metal. So we try to tell them, cover it with duct tape, you know, whatever you need to do. Just protect yourselves and the people you’re trying to rescue because we don’t want you to get cut.”

 Rogers said Chaney’s first-hand experience dealing with accidents also gave the firefighters excellent information on how to how to avoid accidentally injuring trapped victims any worse than they are while trying to rescue them, which he said was a big confidence builder for the firefighters. They learned important pointers like how prevent the car’s dashboard from crushing down on the victim when they pry it back, how to remove the windshield safely and to tape the windows before they break them out so they don’t shatter glass all over the victims in the car.

A Wayland volunteer firefighter uses an ax to cut through a windshield as firefighters prepare to remove the windshield of a car during a training exercise on Saturday, Dec. 5 at the Wayland fire station. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Rogers said knowing to look for those kind of things at a crash scene is a huge bonus to help build the firefighters’ confidence. “Knowing where the battery is located on that car, talking about (what to watch out for on) the electric cars, and about the big orange (high voltage electric) line that comes through there (in electric cars), things like that. I mean that’s a confidence booster knowing that stuff,” Rogers said.

 What to do if you come upon an accident scene

 As for what the general public should do if they come upon an accident, Chaney said they need to try to just stay on the main road and not pull off in a bar ditch because there could be a victim in the grass. He said then give a quick call to 9-1-1 and give them a good location. The caller doesn’t have to be too detailed, the 9-1-1 operator just needs know if there’s a one vehicle or two vehicles and if they know what the vehicle hit, was it a pole, an animal, or another car. “We need to know if it’s multiple vehicles or multiple victims,” Chaney said.

Rogers said while they’ve had some training on using the rescue tools in the past,  the training was an opportunity to do a refresher course. He said they had just had the tools worked on because one of them had leaked and they were encouraged to use them; the training was great opportunity to do that.

To see more photos from the training event, click here for the Breckenridge Texan’s Photo Gallery, “Firefighters Practice Saving Lives.”

Breckenridge Fire Chief Calvin Chaney discusses rescue techniques with Wayland firefighters during a training exercise on Saturday, Dec. 5, behind the fire station. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Cutline, top photo: A Wayland volunteer firefighter uses a hydraulic cutter as he prepares to remove a door during a training exercise for rescuing victims from a crashed vehicle. Click here to see more photos from the training event. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)


The Breckenridge Texan, which is a non-profit news organization, is in the midst of our annual fundraiser. We are participating in NewsMatch, a program that will double any donation (up to $5,000) you make through Dec. 31. Click here to visit the Breckenridge Texan’s NewsMatch page. We will greatly appreciate any support!


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