Airway Services recently partnered with the San Angelo Fire Department to learn more about how to perform rescues on wind turbines. They learned about the hazards that first responders might encounter, as well as what equipment may be used during an emergency rescue in a wind turbine environment.
Additionally, the firefighters shared information about their high-angle rescue equipment and offered techniques to help Airway’s safety instructors understand their functions and limitations.
This was the first of several planned meetings between Airway Services and the department.
The partnership began when Buddy Lemons, the Master Trainer of High Angle Rescues with the department reached out to Airway.
“The San Angelo Fire Department has one unit, one truck, one crew that’s dedicated to high-angle rescue,” said Dustin Jenson, the Director of Safety and Training for Airway Services. “They’re often called out into the county and sometimes into surrounding counties, for emergency rescues. Buddy’s concern was, with the wind industry really growing in our area, and wind turbines starting to creep into Tom Green County and some of the surrounding counties that we work in…he was concerned that there might be a need for some familiarization with a wind turbine and their crew.”
Jenson said the big thing they wanted to learn more about was the rescue equipment.
“We found out that there’s a big difference between the devices and equipment that we use in the wind industry, as opposed to what they use for fire and rescue situations,” Jenson revealed. “It’s the same principle, but the pieces of equipment are very specific to our industry. And so, they needed to get themselves trained in the proper use of our equipment, so that if they’re ever called upon to do a rescue in a wind turbine, they know what they’re facing.”
The first meeting centered around general hazards and equipment. The department brought their high-angle rescue truck to the facility and, Jenson said, they showed the department around their own equipment. The department then showed Airway techs the kits that they have, showcasing their various ropes, hooks, pulleys, and more.
But Jenson said that future conversations will focus on the training aspect.
“We want those guys to come here while we’re doing a training class and teaching our technicians how to be those first responders and how to perform rescues,” he stated. “We want them to see what our guys are trained to do”
Jenson said that it was an honor that the fire department reached out, because they recognized the expertise that Airway Services offers when it comes to wind turbines.
“It’s flattering,” he said. “We like to think of ourselves as a leader in the industry, but when our local first responders start to recognize that too, and they say ‘Hey, these guys at Airway, they know their stuff,’ and they see the training that we’re doing right outside our back door; it’s catching their attention. It means a lot that they would take that initiative to reach out and help us coordinate their training and also coordinate that relationship as well.”
And it’s not just that the department thought of Airway Services when it came to learning more about wind turbine rescues; it’s that they thought about wind turbine rescues at all.
“The more conversations you can have in advance, and the more knowledge that your team can have on each individual organization’s role during an emergency situation, the better you’re gonna perform when the stuff hits the fan,” Jenson said. “I think more than anything, it gives our customers a little more confidence in what we are prepared for. It gives them a little more confidence on that training and that understanding of what emergencies we could encounter. It gives them confidence to know that we’ve done our homework, we’ve done the work to lay the foundation to prepare for the most likely scenario so that, if something does happen on their sites, we’re prepared to respond adequately and efficiently.”