Wearing more than 40 pounds of heavy, insulated safety gear while working in a tight area with no ventilation, Dick Johnson Township volunteer firefighter Ryan Ames overheated to the point of almost passing out during the educational training exercise. According to officials, he was working inside the SUV at the mock accident when the heat became unbearable.
Ames was moved to a safe distance from the scene, his equipment and fire suit was removed so ice packs could be applied and he was provided water to drink.
"It happens quite frequently to firefighters," Event Safety Officer and member of DTVFD and Clay County Search and Rescue Earl Hutcheson told The Brazil Times. "The gear weighs a lot. It's heavily insulated -- which doesn't allow a person to cool off through perspiration -- and it was really hot on the blacktop of the school parking lot Monday."
On Tuesday, officials confirmed Ames is doing fine after his brush with heat exhaustion. Firefighters often develop heat cramps and dehydration while working at an emergency incident, even during cold winter months.
"Making sure firefighters are safe is why we have TransCare on the scene of all fires (and accidents)," Hutcheson said.
Although the crowd might not have noticed Ames succumb to the heat, or thought it was part of the mock accident presentation, officials were proud of the dedication, training and professionalism shown by all the responding firefighters.
"These men and women took a day off from work to do this as a way to help educate young people about the consequences of bad decisions," Event Coordinator and Clay County Search and Rescue member Brandon Sciotto said. "But this is also a training event for our emergency response personnel. After today, I think everyone did a good job. If this experience only reaches one person, then it was a success."
CLARIFICATION April 14, 2010
In the above story, Posey Township Volunteer Fire Department firefighter Meri Barker is pictured as part of the "firefighter down" simulation of an air bag explosion during the mock accident held at Northview High School Monday. Firefighter Ryan Ames, who became ill in a separate incident, said, "I did get a little over heated, but nothing too big." Although a normal medical procedure for a victim suffering from too much heat, no ice packs were used to help Ames.