Confined Space Rescue Training

On October 17, 2022, High Steel Structures’ Lancaster First Aid Team hosted volunteers from Lafayette Fire Company and Witmer Fire Protective Association for a confined space emergency training drill, staged with an arch rib box girder for a project that is currently in fabrication. The drill involved rescue scenarios using both live “victims” and mannequins.

High Steel holds multiple drills and triages during the year with the first aid team and various local EMS to train for life-threatening emergencies. This training is vital to safety during complex operations at High Steel’s facilities. By orienting first responders to specific scenarios that may occur in an actual emergency, we can help to expedite the rescue process. Practice in approaching likely hazards during a rescue provides a valuable learning experience for first responders and identifies areas for safety and response improvement.

High Steel Structures Safety Specialist Nick Oakes and High Steel First Aid Team President Deb Kupres planned two scenarios for the confined space rescue drill. During a regularly scheduled fire company training night, volunteers were staged at High Steel’s Lancaster, PA facilities, unaware of the details and awaiting further instructions.

An arch rib box girder was set up in the yard in a challenging orientation for the rescuers, with a rescue mannequin placed at the back of the space and a live “victim” placed towards the middle of the space. Fire department units were dispatched from the parking lot where they were briefed on the first emergency scenario by High Steel personnel.

Rescuers established safety procedures and proceeded to remove the simulated victims from the box girder within 30 minutes of dispatch. A second complex rescue scenario followed, including two live “victims”, one of whom was a firefighter, with each in a different location within the box girder.

After each drill, a triage was held to discuss how we could improve the response. We also covered High Steel's First Aid team’s capabilities and responsibilities, our equipment and resources, and the extent of other potential accidents.

High Steel President John O’Quinn thanked the fire company volunteers for participating and strengthening the partnership between High Steel and our local emergency services.

“During the coming months, we will fabricate more than 60 of these large box girders for the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Hawk Falls bridge project, so this confined space training is invaluable to everyone’s safety preparedness,” said O’Quinn. “We would like to recognize and thank High Steel’s First Aid Team members, as well as the volunteer firefighters and other various local EMS who protect our local community. “