GUCA Drills County Fire Departments in Trench Rescue

Fri December 12, 2008 - Southeast Edition

Excavation work is recognized as one of the most hazardous construction operations. Cave-ins are perhaps the most feared trenching hazards but other potentially fatal hazards exist, including: asphyxiation due to lack of oxygen in a confined space; inhalation of toxic fumes; and drowning. Electrocution or explosions also can occur when workers contact underground utilities.

With the dangers of working in trenches and excavations becoming more apparent to construction workers, as well as the public, the Georgia Utility Contractors Association Inc. (GUCA) is working to help educate and train county fire departments in trench rescue. Trenching accidents are extremely dangerous and complex, not only because of the time sensitive nature of the situation, but also because of the lack of general knowledge surrounding rescue efforts. Expertise is essential when approaching a trapped person and many cases of multiple accidents are the result of unqualified co-workers attempting to save the victim.

GUCA received a grant from the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA) to coordinate a two-day trench rescue training program at the Hall County Fire Training Center on Oct. 30 to 31. The first day of training involved classroom education followed by one day of actual hands on trench rescue simulations.

More than 25 fire department personnel from Hall County, City of Gainesville Fire Department and the Gainesville Water and Sewer Department participated in this two-day training course.

The following industry professionals helped foster this accomplishment: Deputy Chief Skip Heflin, Hall County Fire Services; Captain Dale Perry, Gainesville Fire Department; Captain Eric Rockfeld, Gainesville Fire Department and Instructor Dickie Watson, Southern Rescue Specialists Inc.

Sponsors for the event included Southern Trenching Inc. and H&H Insurance Services Inc.

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