Drill tests students’ fire skills

June 28, 2017

Help on hand: Cobram Secondary College students help 'injured' firefighter Dave Beard from the scene.

Clearing the room: Captain Adrian Hilder shows the Advance students how to use the ventilating machine.

Smoke but no flames: Advance students walk through the scenario, created by a smoke machine.

Learning on the job: Advance students Mitchell Hawke, Tristan Grinter, Mikayla Laws and Paris Rich listen to Cobram Fire Brigade Adrian Hilder explain what the firefighters were doing on the scene of an emergency.

Sirens were blaring and smoke was pouring from one of Cobram Secondary College’s buildings on Friday afternoon.

It was an ordinary fire drill for most, but for one group of students it was about gaining real life emergency management skills.

The scheduled fire drill, planned in consultation with Cobram Fire Brigade, was also a critical incident and rescue scenario playing out in real time.

The school’s Advance students worked with the firefighters to gain an insight into an incident response, while others were planted in classrooms for searchers to find as students who were left behind in the evacuation.

‘‘The scenario was designed to provide the school and CFA with an unknown and uncontained incident, to test the effectiveness of the school’s emergency response model and allow the CFA to conduct a realistic rescue, which had never been done before at the school,’’ Advance co-ordinator Randall Jones said.

‘‘The experience was a great learning opportunity for all involved, especially the college’s Year 10 Advance CFA cadets, who were actively involved, shadowing the CFA brigade during the response, as well as providing student ‘dummies’ hidden about the school or injured during the mock incident.’’

Student Tamara Brockley said it was good to see if the school systems worked.

‘‘I played an injured student in the fake smoke, so no-one knew if it was a drill or not, so it was more realistic,’’ she said.

‘‘Shadowing the CFA crew to see how they manage a critical incident was really great — we could see what actually happens,’’ fellow student Paris Rich said.

Cobram Fire Brigade captain Adrian Hilder said it was a great learning opportunity for the Advance students, as well as firefighters who were training in an unfamiliar building.

‘‘The crew were using their search and rescue skills, and had taken the thermal imaging camera in with them,’’ he said.

‘‘The breathing apparatus team worked their way through the building to locate any missing people and bring them back outside.

‘‘We also showed the students the procedure to ventilate a building and to check if the carbon dioxide levels were safe to go in.’’

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