The Cape Town Destroyers reflect on their World Rescue Challenge Luxembourg experience
The return of the physical World Rescue Challenge hosted by the Luxembourg Rescue Organisation and the Corps Grand-Ducal d’Incendie et de Secours (CGDIS) saw 70 teams competing in Extrication and Trauma at the iconic CGDIS HQ in Luxembourg. Fire and Rescue International spoke to Cape Town Destroyers Team leader, Warren Sam, about their experience in competing internationally.
How was the experience competing in the WRC in Luxembourg?
It was an amazing experience; the level of competition is very high from both the setup of the scenarios and from the other international teams. The event was incredibly well organised. It was held at the CNIS in Luxembourg City, which is their new national fire services headquarters. It combines all facets of the fire service into one facility including a big practical training area including a silo, train and tunnel, heavy vehicle, indoor training facility with simulated pitch roof and building facades, administration block, emergency dispatch centre, large incident control centre, the operational fire station, gymnasium, training classrooms and a canteen.
Getting to see how the European model of fire fighting works was very interesting and exchanging ideas with the Luxembourgian fire fighters was a great learning opportunity.
The Team also met fire fighters from many other countries, many of whom we know from previous competitions.
Some of the challenges we encountered as a first was extricating a patient from a vehicle with a panoramic glass roof as this is not something we had done before and posed new challenges.
The country of Luxembourg has one percent of its population as either career or volunteer fire fighters.
The friendships forged with so many fire fighters from around the world go to show how strong the brotherhood of fire fighting is and how it knows no bounds, often communicating with one another via Google translate.
We are one big service spread across the globe.
What were the results?
The Team's best placing was 10th in the Standard 20 minute scenario. It was a great accomplishment as we were aiming to get at least one top 10 placing. We have some great take home learning points to improve on and hopefully place in the top 10 on more than one scenario at the next challenge. https://worldrescuechallenge.com/wrc2022-luxembourg-results/
Will you compete in the next WRC?
The qualifying criteria to compete is that the team must place in the top 3 nationally to be invited to compete at the international challenge. It will be great to have another local competition to participate in and place within the top 3 to allow us to compete internationally again. The WRC 2023 is going to be held in Lanzarote, a Spanish island off the coast of West Africa.
Where do you need to focus the training for the next WRC?
We received detailed feedback after each scenario and took note of both the positive and negative points. Showing good situational awareness, team cohesion and consistent energy throughout are important as well as coming up with a plan and all working towards achieving that. As I mentioned before the level of competition is very high, we cannot ever assume that getting inside the vehicle means that you will be able to move around once inside. The primary concern with the entire challenge is still patient orientated and we did manage to score well there as well as on the technical and incident command aspects.
Did you visit the fire service while traveling?
The Team was very fortunate to have been hosted by a local volunteer fire station in Luxembourg. The volunteer fire fighters were incredibly accommodating, showing us around their lovely city, having us over for a "braai" at their station and assisting in getting us around. It was amazing to see that most of the outlying areas rely on predominantly volunteer fire fighters.
We did also visit the Lukas Rescue Factory in Germany. We had an amazing tour of Nuremberg Fire Station 1, which is also a new fire station. The fire services in Europe are very similarly organised utilising a standardised fire engine and aerial ladder in most countries. The Lukas Factory tour was very interesting to see how the tools are manufactured and assembled. We were able to see the evolution from the first generation hydraulic tools that are petrol powered to the latest technology battery operated systems with a variety of sensors to allow data collection from the tool including over-exertion, operating pressure and whether the tool has been dropped and requires maintenance and repair.
In our travels we also got to learn a lot about the rapid increase in hybrid and electric vehicle technology. This new avenue is becoming very prevalent in Europe and they are having to adapt both extrication and fire fighting techniques meet the new vehicles. The location of high voltage cables and the high security casing around the batteries mean that rescuers must know where it is safe to cut, how to isolate the large battery and also how to locate, access and adequately cool the battery in the event of fire. Fortunately with the number of electric vehicles in Europe they are already making headway into how to effectively combat electric vehicle fires and we were able to learn a lot from them.
All in all it was an amazing learning experience, both relating to fire fighting as well as culture. We are able to bring knowledge back and share that with our colleagues and improve the service that we give to the public.
Congratulations to the Cape Town Destroyers Team for their skills and expertise resulting in their great result. We hope that there will be more South African teams competing in the next World Rescue Challenge!
Photos: Rob Stamatiadis
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