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Security Equipment Rescues Trench Safety Seminar

Wed May 24, 2000 - Northeast Edition
Carolyn Dawson

Recognizing the importance of using real-life construction equipment to aid rescue education efforts, a Baltimore construction equipment distributor freely donates its time, equipment and services, all in the name of safety.

Recently, Security Equipment Co. donated the use a brand new backhoe – a New Holland LB75, logging more than 25 hours on it – at a Baltimore County Fire Department trench rescue training demonstration.

In the event of a construction accident or other disaster involving trench rescue efforts, it’s the fire departments’ rescue teams that are called, explained Security Equipment’s Tim Kamberger, also a volunteer with the Baltimore City Fire Dept.

To aid these rescue teams, a trench rescue training session utilizing real-life pieces of construction equipment and hands-on training was provided. The trench rescue demonstration was comprised of approximately 60 instructors and some 300 students from rescue units throughout the state – including Anne Arundel, Baltimore City, Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Harford, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties – plus teams that even traveled from North Carolina, South Carolina, Boston, Philadelphia, Hanover and the District of Columbia.

The event was held at the old Nike missile silo site in Jacksonville, MD, which now is used as a training site for the Baltimore County Fire Dept.

Each of the seven trenches at the site were staffed by a tactical team comprised of a trench commander, setup and collapse task teams plus medical response teams with doctors from the University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma unit.

Volunteer and municipal rescue units, ambulance crews, fire departments and advanced rescue units received hands-on trench rescue training.

After learning about procedures and equipment use in a classroom setting, the rescue teams then had the opportunity to practice what they learned in the real life, hands-on training setting of seven trench collapse sites.

For example, at one of the trench sites a simulated construction accident was staged, involving the collapse of a trench trapping a skid steer loader and its operator. Teams used Security Equipment Co.’s New Holland LB75 backhoe to dig out the skid steer. In addition to the use of its backhoe, Security Equipment also donated the use of the New Holland LS160 skid steer.

At another trench site, a seemingly routine trench rescue demonstration turned into a simulated medical emergency exercise, involving one fatality and serious injury, both of which required a crane to assist as an anchor point in the patient extrication.

The trench rescue demonstration went extremely well, Kamberger said, noting that there were no injuries, no unexpected problems or mishaps – just a few heat-related injuries, as teams battled both trench rescue efforts and the extreme temperatures in the 90s, while wearing gloves, hard hats and other rescue gear.

Joy Co. of Bladensburg, MD, also assisted the trench rescue educational efforts by donating the use of its Deere turbo 4x4 410E backhoe. W.L. Gore of Elkton, MD, donated gloves and pizza, and Baltimore County provided Ingersoll Rand compressors.

Kamberger said he sees the training session as a win-win situation for both rescue teams and equipment dealers. “We’ve been using the same equipment that a contractor would use during training,” said Kamberber, himself a volunteer EMT and paramedic with the Baltimore City FD since he was 16 years old.

“Contractors have to be aware that there is a method to the madness with trench rescue efforts,” he said. “Emotions can often get in the way, especially when the victim in a construction accident is not merely a co-worker but also a friend or family member. You can’t just randomly send in a backhoe to dig out a very delicate extrication operation or severe trench collapse.”

Captain Bob Murray of the Baltimore County Advanced Tactical Team said he agrees. “We realize that trench rescue is very specialized. The only way to train for trench rescue is to bring together instructors, fire departments and rescue personnel, and train so they can manage safely,” he said.

Captain Murray acknowledged that it would be impossible for fire and rescue units to train properly without the use of the construction equipment donated by the dealers.

The trench rescue demonstration has been so successful that this year marked the tenth year of the training program, which has served more than 5,000 students from across the U.S. as well as several other countries.

Feedback from the students attending the training session also echoed positive experiences.

“I learned a lot more than I would have from just a lecture,” said John Baker, a member of Baltimore County’s Middle River Volunteer Fire Dept. “The hands-on experience was just that much better. Safety is the No. 1 goal of the program, but everything was presented in a way that was really enjoyable.”

Security Equipment Co. is a full-service distributor of commercial, grounds maintenance and construction equipment, ranging from string trimmers to backhoe loaders. It provides one-stop shopping for sales, parts, service, rentals, leasing and maintenance plans.

For more information about Security Equipment Co., call 800/759-7364 or visit

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