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School employees prepare for emergencies

Darrington firefighter Denny Fenstermaker explains to Arlington School District employees how wooden planks and pry-bars can be used to lift heavy objects during search and rescue. - KIRK BOXLEITNER The Arlington Times
Darrington firefighter Denny Fenstermaker explains to Arlington School District employees how wooden planks and pry-bars can be used to lift heavy objects during search and rescue.
— image credit: KIRK BOXLEITNER The Arlington Times

ARLINGTON — With a man pinned beneath the heavy dumpster, they carefully placed wooden blanks at the base of the dumpster, eventually giving themselves enough leverage to lift the heavy object and free the trapped victim.

The rescued man was only a practice dummy, but the Arlington School District employees in the parking lot of City Hall Oct. 2 had learned a life-saving hands-on lesson in search and rescue, under the instruction of Darrington firefighter Denny Fenstermaker.

“With cribbing like this, even a small group of people can lift a very heavy object, regardless of back or knee injuries,” Fenstermaker said. “You shouldn’t have to push on the level that hard. Just adjust the fulcrum of the bar or the cribbing, to give you a longer lever.”

This two-hour training was only one part of the two-day multi-hazard workshop sponsored by, and conducted for, the Arlington School District. Arlington Community Emergency Management Coordinator Christine Badger conducted a number of the courses in the City Council Chambers, but many more involved outdoor exercises and practical applications.

Haller Middle School Assistant Principal Alan Boatman hefted a pry-bar to save the dummy. He explained that this workshop is made possible through a grant from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to the Arlington School District, to fund the cost of substitute teachers for all the faculty members who attended the two-day training.

“There’s no way we could do this otherwise,” Boatman said.

“I want to be a firefighter now,” laughed Weston High School Principal Maurene Stanton, Boatman’s partner in pry-barring the dummy free. “I actually feel like I can help in these situations.”

The Community Emergency Response Team training also covered drills, evacuations, fire extinguisher operation, developing crisis plans and conducting school security assessments. Pioneer Elementary Principal Karl Olson agreed with his peers who found the process “empowering” in its information.

“I look forward to putting this preparation into practice as soon as I get back to school,” Olson said. “It teaches you to have backup plans, since nothing ever goes by what the textbook says.”

Arlington High School Air Force Junior ROTC Maj. Mike Blue is no stranger to emergency preparedness, thanks to his years in the military, and he gave high marks to the workshop.

“I’m glad to see the schools are also serious about safety concerns,” Blue said. “They emphasize the same things, like placing first priority on making sure your rescuers stay safe.”

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