color spec ops/halfway down
Members of the Special Ops Team practiced retrieving a mannequin from the bottom of a reservoir recently.
 
Special Ops Team expands training
The Patrick County Special Operations (Special Ops) Team expanded its training recently by practicing how to rescue someone who has fallen or gotten stuck in a confined space.
Steve Allen, emergency management coordinator, said nine current team members and three new members went through the training at the Town of Stuart water treatment plant.
A mannequin dressed in fire turnout gear was in the deepest part of the water reservoir, and Special Ops members used specialized equipment to go down and get the "victim," Allen said.
"That was the first time we had done that," Allen said. "We have a great team and everyone is wanting to learn more and more."
Allen said the team members are working with the new Special Ops Team equipment approved by the Patrick County Board of Supervisors at the June 8 meeting.
Clint Weidhaas, a member of the Special Ops Team, told the board of supervisors that the specialized equipment can be used in a variety of rescue situations.
That equipment gives them the capability to rescue people trapped in structural or trench collapses, such as wells or deep holes.
It can also be used for animal rescues, in cases in which horses or other large animals are trapped in vehicle accidents; and for heavy truck stabilization, such as when a tractor-trailer goes over a steep mountainside. It can lift 20,000 pounds, Weidhaas said.
The Patrick County Special Ops Team has made five rescues of people who fell down mountainsides during the past two years, Weidhaas said, and the team's rappelling equipment (purchased when the team was formed) and special training made that possible.
The total cost of the new equipment and a trailer for transport was about $55,000, with the board appropriating $14,675 and the rest coming from the 2014-2015 emergency medical services budget.
"I hope we never have to use it," Allen said of the new equipment. "But who would have thought we'd have to use the rappelling equipment so many times? It will be there if we need it."