CBO: Ecuador 2014

From December 3rd to the 16th 2014, GlobalFire conducted a Capacity Building Operation in Southern Ecuador.  The GlobalFire team was made up of volunteers from across Canada.  This team distributed fire fighting equipment to 11 local Fire/EMS departments for free.  Additionally, the team ran a free training program for local first responders from 6 Fire/EMS departments.  To read blog posts from this operation, please scroll down this page.

December 5, 2014

Today, the GlobalFire team in Ecuador was busy.

One of the day's activities was an assessment of the fire suppression capacity of the City of Duran's fire department.  The city, situated beside where the Daule & Babahoyo rivers join to become the Guayas River, has a population just less than 500,000 but it has only 5 fire stations, one ambulance and one fire boat. Each fire station has only one fire truck staffed by 2 Bomberos (Firefighters). The Bomberos work 24 hour shifts and then have 48 hours off. The halls and trucks are all in need of repair and more fire fighting and rescue equipment. However the department has seen marked improvement in recent months under the leadership of the new Fire Chief, Colonel CHAN. The new Chief has undertaken a series of department-wide projects to improve the stations, equipment, staffing and level of training. 

In addition to conducting the needs assessment, GlobalFire team members visited several local shops to purchase building materials and equipment needed to train the 

During another of the day's activities, GlobalFire volunteers were working on building the training props that will be needed when the (free) GlobalFire training course begins next week for Bomberos from across Guayas Province.  Some of the props built so far include: an "elevation change", a "wire disentanglement" tunnel, a "low & reduced-profile" prop, a "window security bar" cut prop and "forcible entry doors".  The training prop construction will continue over the next few days to ensure everything is ready for the beginning of the course on Monday.

Fire fighting is a dangerous job even for well funded, equipped and trained fire departments. The risk is magnified by the challanges faced by Bomberos in Ecuador. This point was reinforced today when, in an unfortunate event, a Guayaquil Bombero, named Byron Tobar Calle was killed while responding to a house fire, and a second Bombero was injured at that same fire by a fire hose rupturing.

All of the GlobalFire team members in Ecuador (indeed, everyone at GlobalFire) would like to express our heart felt sadness at the loss of this brave Bombero, and extend our condolences to his family, friends and co-workers. 

 

December 6, 2014

On Saturday, GlobalFire team members completed construction of the various props to be used for the training of Bomberos that will commence on Monday. Items include the doors that have been set up for forcible entry exercises and the window rebar frames for cutting techniques and several doors for the Bomberos to practice forcible entry. The team members have worked on these for the past two days under 40°C weather.

One of the GlobalFire team's Paramedics got to ride with the local ambulance. She responded to a MVA where two buses side-swiped each other. None of the passengers were hurt and they seemed more worried about the spilled bags of rice. The second call involved a motorcyclist struck by a 1 ton work truck. The Duran Paramedics very efficiently put the motorcyclist on a backboard and transported him to hospital.

 

December 7, 2014

Sunday started on a somber note with four team members attending the funeral of fallen Bombero Byron Tolar Calle, who had been killed in the line of duty on Friday. There was much pageantry for the procession from the fallen Bombero's fire station to the cemetary.  GlobalFire's Ecuador team leader was asked to join the procession and attend the interment. It was a very moving service. 

The afternoon brought a welcome diversion for the team; they went to Los Playas - a beach town literally called "the  beach." They returned happy and tired after a delicious seafood dinner our local driver Jose helped them find.

At the same time, an element from GlobalFire traveled out to inspect the capability of and speak with the Bomberos working at several outlying fire departments in advance of providing them with equipment and training.

 

December 8, 2014

The second day of training went smoothly, despite the minor earthquake that occurred about 60km away!  This time, classes were divided into four groups (three for fire fighting and one for Paramedics). The fire fighting students learned about hose deployment and packaging methods (bundles etc), stairwell configuration,  "forcible entry" tools, such as the halligan bar, how to properly use power saw for various applications.  The Paramedic students learned about burns, fractures, spinal injury stabilization,  and pregnancies.  For both students, they learned the differences and the similarities between North American and South American emergency procedures. Another productive day.   

 

December 10, 2014

The Ecuador media visited the City of Duran's fire academy to watch GlobalFire in action. Against the background of ongoing training sessions, Team Leader Craig Lester and Duran Fire Chief (Col.) Philips Chan gave interviews that provided insight into the mission.

The pace of training hasn't slackened, moving into the course's third day today. The Bomberos continued learning and practicing with both tools and fire hose.  Topics learned search-and-rescue procedures and techniques (some had goggles blackened with black tape to simulate smoke-filled rooms). The paramedic students concluded their lessons with vehicle extrication,  CPR, and bandaging fractures. The day was long and hot but both student and instructor were eager to learn and teach.

The GlobalFire members who are paramedics spent two  days teaching fifteen EMR's (Emergency Medical Responders) the basics  &  were feeling  quite proud of their accomplishments. Then they learned that one department did not receive training. His father suffered a heart attack near the beginning of the  training, and he had to leave. Due to space constraints within the course, each fire department from around the Ecuadorian province of  Guayas was only allowed one position. When he left, Santa Elena lost their access to the training. When Norma & Alison heard this they decided to do  something about it. Arrangements had already been made for los Bomberos to do water rescue training after normal course hours. Our medics asked if the people from Santa Elena would like some medical training while the others were doing the water rescue training. They happily agreed, & recruited ten more. GlobalFire's team in Ecuador will do their best to get as much free training as possible to as many as possible in the time they are deployed. Including working into the night!   

 

December 11, 2014

Day 4 of training saw GlobalFire teach charged-hose following (students had taped-up goggles and had to follow a maze of charged hose out of an old shipping container that simulated a dark and smoky environment), ground ladder operations and victim rescues,  confined space maneuvers, and wire disentanglement procedures.

Yesterday morning the GlobalFire Paramedic course practiced auto collision patient removal with spinal restriction patients. All the students were enthusiastic and seemed to enjoy the hands on practice using an actual vehicle. This morning, when the team arrived at the fire academy, Duran ambulance members informed us that last night they had responded to an MVC in which the driver was not wearing a seat belt, and was complaining of back and neck pain. They told me "we remembered everything from training, and we did it all very right"

They were extremely proud of their training and their skillful efforts during the actual emergency that followed.

After that long day, GlobalFire spent an additional four hours teaching Paramedics and instructing water rescue at a local swimming pool. The tired students and instructors had a huge morale boost with a refreshing swim. Some students went further singing the local soccer song after the team's big victory from the previous night.   

 

December 12, 2014

Friday marks the last day of training before Saturday's scenarios.  GlobalFire team members continued teach new and interesting techniques to their Ecuadorian counterparts. Skills taught ranged from Firefighter rescue team equipment familiarization and specialized maneuvers instruction, to Firefighter-in-a-hole rescue, and window bailout methods. Interviews were conducted with Col. Philips Chan and Bomberos from the various fire departments. The team members were treated to a local sea-food dinner as guests of the Duran Fire Department, hosts of the free training course.