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June 13, 2014

Emergency residents test skill at rescues

— It sometimes takes an emergency rescue before Memorial Medical Center’s emergency room residency department can treat an injured patient delivered to their hospital wing.

A group of 15 Conemaugh Health System ER residents on Thursday got a glimpse into what that effort often involves when they joined the Johns­town Fire Department members at their Iron Street training site to rappel from structures, practice confined space rescues and a go through a number of other drills.

ER resident Sophia Johnson used hydraulic Jaws of Life cutters to clip a damaged vehicle’s frame, often a first step for firefighters trying to safely rescue passengers from crumpled cars.

“This gives them a chance to see firsthand some of the difficulties we face before we get get someone to an ambulance or into an ER for treatment,” city fire Chief Anthony Kovacic said, noting rescues can sometimes be time-consuming and calculated  for safety’s sake. “It’s not always just firefighting.”

Behind him, firefighters lifted ER resident Robyn Kratenstein onto the training center’s roof from an upper floor.

“This is extremely valuable for us,” said Dr. Matthew Perry, residency project director. “It gives us a much better understanding of what is going on nearly every day for our first responders.”

This is the fourth year the fire department and the Conemaugh program partnered for the day of drills, Perry said.

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at @TDDavidHurst.

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