ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Local firefighters worked hard during the recent wildfires across the Big Country, but the work doesn’t stop once the flames are contained.
“We have a lot out here at our training division,” explained Abilene Fire Department’s (AFD) Captain Ben Cotton. “We bring cars out, too, and we spend a lot of time where we do different extrication techniques and tactics that we go through.”
Abilene Firefighters learn a lot of different things at their Training Facility, including heat safety.
“Where we are this year and the extreme heat and the temperatures that we’re having, it’s something we’ve really got to be aware of,” Capt. Cotton said.
According to Cotton, 52 deaths happened last year across the nation, where children were locked in hot cars.
“I think that we get the parents that start to say, ‘oh, I’m going to run into the store really quick,’ and this time of year we just can’t do that anymore,” Capt. Cotton said.
According to Capt. Cotton, AFD’s goal is to arrive to the scene of a distress report within four minutes. When a child is in danger every minute counts.
In 10 minutes a car can heat up 20 degrees, according to this factsheet from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
On a day like Tuesday, when there’s a predicted high temperature of 102° in Abilene, leaving a child in the car for 10 minutes will heat that car up to more than 120°.
Former Abilene firefighter, Pete Beretta detailed the quick process of saving a child from vehicular heatstroke.
“Any fire department that drives up to a heat-stressed emergency type situation where there’s a baby involved, is going to pretty much gain access after they check for the locks,” advised Beretta. “They can pretty much gain access by going through the window.”
Fire fighters must learn extrication techniques, like breaking the window of a car, but ultimately hope they never have to use them.
“We use these statistics and that’s how we start growing our knowledge base about what we can do,” Capt. Cotton added.