“If You Can’t Stop Them, Let Them Fall”: Escape Training

At a white house with green trim, two firefighters set up a ladder to a second story window. The other three firefighters met in the bedroom inside the window explaining to the cadets: tonight they would be practicing bringing patients down a ladder as if the building was on fire and the window was their only way out.

“If you have to bring someone down the ladder and they start to freak out and you can’t get them to stop,” Captain Howarth told Cadets, “let them fall.”

“Better to have just one of you fall down and get hurt then both of you.”

After watching instructors going down with patients, Cadet practiced moving down from the second story while carrying another person. Unconscious patients were carried above Cadets so Cadets could keep at least three points of contact on the ladder at all times while still supporting patients.

“Once we get up there (the second story) you either have to be the rescuer or act as a patient,” Lt.Farnham explained to Cadets.

“Patients need to panic while you’re on the ladder, make it seem real,” he said.  “So when this does happens for real, you won’t freeze up or freak out.”

One core concept taught to all firefighters in all aspects of what they do is that it’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. Whether it’s your partner, a tool, drinking water, even an extra pair of sock not having the proper equipment can make the difference between life and death.

Lt. Farnham said “If you’re on the ground, looking for ways to help and you see a window without a ladder, put one up!” Explaining to Cadets. “You don’t know where people are in that building. If shit hits the fan and our guys need a way out now, we need to be able to give them one.