ELKINS — To be better prepared for any type of emergencies that may arise while local citizens are in elevators, the Elkins Fire Department, along with Randolph County Department of Homeland Security personnel, took part in a training session this past weekend.
Both organizations learned first-hand from John Hoffman, a retired fire chief from New Jersey and the current Braxton County Department of Homeland Security director, about the special challenges and risks associated with rescuing people trapped in elevators.
“There’s not a lot of good information in the basic firefighter curriculum that teaches you about elevators,” Elkins Fire Department Chief Steve Himes told The Inter-Mountain. “So it was really an informative morning for us.”
Himes said 11 EFD members took part in the training along with five employees from the Randolph County Office of Emergency Management. He noted the OEM employees attended the class so they could better identify what someone would go through if stuck in an elevator.
“The OEM personnel wanted to see what being on the other end of that phone call was like,” Himes said. “So they came and went through the training session as well.”
Those attending the training, which took place at Davis Medical Center, were instructed on operating landing doors, manual lowering of elevator cars and firefighter bypass operations.
“Most of the time it’s the landing door that doesn’t open or something like that when people get stuck in elevators,” Himes said. “Everything we learned up until last Saturday has been on the job trial and error. But we have a whole lot better understanding now of what we are dealing with. We are a lot more knowledgeable today than we were a week ago.”
Himes said he is working on getting the Elkins Fire Department more elevator training in the future.
“There’s a two-day class that’s a little more in-depth that we are working on getting in,” Himes said. “Hopefully we can get into that class fairly soon so that we can get even more information.”
Himes pointed out that most of the elevators in the immediate area are hydraulic run, with the exception of a few in some of the older buildings around Elkins.
“I would not be surprised if probably the elevator in the Wilt Building, possibly the one in City Hall, and a few others around are actually traction elevators on cables,” Himes said. “And the traction ones are a whole different animal when it comes to elevators.”