Crews Gain Life-saving Skills in Training at Power Plant

A training exercise at Granite Ridge Energy’s power plant last week provided an opportunity for local fire personnel and staff at the plant to sharpen their response skills, should an emergency arise requiring rescue from a substantial height.

Londonderry Fire Battalion Chief Jim Roger said the Department’s response was “excellent,” and Granite Ridge Environmental Health and Safety Manager Sue Prior said she was pleased to see her staff reacted appropriately in the simulated emergency, even remembering to bring an automated external defibrillator (AED) to the scene as a precaution.

For the training exercise, a mannequin was placed on the platform of an exhaust stack at about 100 feet high with a tag describing his symptoms. “Contractor Bob,” age 58, had stopped responding to co-workers over the radio and was found conscious, complaining of chest pain.

“I was looking to see if my staff would take the AED up just in case, even though “Bob” was conscious – and they did,” Prior said.

Firefighters and paramedics arrived on the scene and lowered “Bob” from the platform on a stretcher using a pulley system called a “Multipurpose Device,” which the Department purchased from CMC Rescue Department.

It took the Department 22 minutes to arrive on the scene, make contact with “Bob” and assess his condition, then establish the rigging and lower him to safety on the ground, according to Roger.

“That’s a real good time, because within another eight minutes we could have him transported for care at Elliot Hospital,” he said.

The exercise will be performed again by the Town’s three other fire battalions, which will also provide an opportunity for Prior to evaluate different members of her staff at the plant as well.

“This will definitely be a benchmark for the other groups,” Roger said.

The Londonderry Fire Department visits the plant often. Just last year, crews worked inside the plant to complete a confined space drill.

“They are familiar with our site. That’s huge,” Prior said. “It’s really a mutually beneficial relationship.”

The day before the April 23 training drill, Prior said fire personnel visited the plant with a truck to evaluate the scene and in the process realized the truck’s ladder could reach the first platform of the exhaust stack. She said learning details like that through their training exercises makes a big difference in lowering response times.

Additionally, Roger said the training exercise at Granite Ridge will provide his crews valuable practice working with the equipment they would use in a variety of emergency scenarios that could present throughout the Town – such as rescues from cellular towers and construction sites.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a rescue from 100 feet or 180 feet. What they learned here they can take anywhere in town,” he said, noting the Multipurpose Device they used to bring “Contractor Bob” to safety is the same equipment they would use in a confined space rescue, or any other rescue where the patient is isolated at a substantial height.

And with numerous industrial sites located in Londonderry and substantial, ongoing construction along Pettengill Road, the Fire Department must be equipped to provide the unique services that set it apart from other departments across the state, Roger said.