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While it has competitive elements, the main reason the Roanoke Rapids Fire Department is reviving the Transportation Emergency Rescue Committee challenge is for training and building relationships with fellow organizations.

Roanoke Rapids Deputy Fire Marshal Micheal Butts has been organizing a team made up of members of the fire department, Roanoke Valley Rescue and Halifax County EMS and is also planning what is being called the River City Challenge in May or June.

Helping him in organizing the team and the event is Brian Hux of Roanoke Valley, which has had past experience in competing in the challenges.

“The primary focus is to get us training together,” Butts said Wednesday. “It’s about building relationships and creating better customer service.”

There will be no city tax dollars at play in the event, he said, as the team will be raising money through fundraisers and corporate sponsorships — see a PDF of the sponsorship information at this link.

The competition is judged in different stages. Incident command will be judged for sizing up the scenario and giving a review.

The teams are judged for vehicle stabilization techniques used to ensure a victim is not injured further while teams try to get them out.

There is a limited scenario in which each team is given a total of 20 minutes to work using only hand and pneumatic tools — air chisels, sawzalls and hand-operated hydraulics. 

In the unlimited scenario, each team is given a total of 20 minutes to work using all available handtools and heavy hydraulic tools such as the Jaws of Life. These scenarios are typically more complex.

Butts said the limited scenario would demonstrate what happens if power is lost to the equipment firefighters, paramedics and EMTs typically use.

Roanoke Rapids firefighters who have signed on as team members are Butts, Patrick Peagram, Will Harris and Clay Barmer. Roanoke Valley members are Hux, Darrick McGee, Jay Barnes, Anthony Banks, Chad Keeter and Braxton Roberson. Lindsey Rowland will represent Halifax EMS.

Butts said the team is still working on getting junked cars to use for practice. The first training for the team will be October 25 at 6 p.m. at the EMS station on Highway 125.

Roanoke Rapids Chief Jason Patrick supports the idea and the challenge. “One of the things we’re talking about is building relationships in each department. We learn from watching others and it gives us the opportunity to bring in visitors from out of town.”

For more information contact Butts at 252-578-6127 or Hux at 252-673-8960.