Firefighters travel across the country to Hampton Roads for Annual Rescue Challenge

NORFOLK, Va. – Firefighters, also known as rescue technical experts, aren’t just saving lives from a red truck.

Wednesday they were enhancing their rescue skills on the Battleship Wisconsin. Participants went down five decks inside the ship to save a mannequin victim.

“These are low frequency high risk events so this doesn’t happen everyday,” said Jess Rodzinka, president of the Virginia Technical Rescue Association. “However their skill set still needs to be trained and worked on at home through out the year.”

There are eight drills that 12 rescue teams have to go through across Hampton Roads.

Wednesday’s exercise focuses on rescuing people that are trapped in confined spaces.

“We have workers that go into sewers that’s a confined space. If they have any kind of construction where they’re putting power lines, sewer pipes, whatever underground they have,” said Rodzinka. “A trench collapse–vehicle accidents happen everyday for these gentlemen and ladies that are working with us.”

Rescue technical experts say that this week’s challenge comes with a lot of physical demand and teamwork.

“There’s metering for hazardous atmospheres, there’s fall protection that actually lower our rescuers and bring the patient up out of the hole, along with ventilation of the space that we’re going into,” said rescue technical expert, Scott Springer from Virginia Beach. “So there’s a lot of different aspects that are really being controlled right now.”

Springer mentions that it’s the kind of training they need to successfully save lives.

The Rescue Challenge continues through Friday and once it ends rescue technical experts hope to take those skills and apply them back in their communities.