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No common ground found | That comes with the territory during firefighter 'trench rescue training'

Middletown Firefighters offer a look into one of their most challenging scenarios: Trench rescue training.

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. — The training days in the firefighting profession are usually noteworthy but, in Middletown, when trench rescue training is added to the mix, it’s always memorable.

“It’s the real thing, this is the real deal, this is a live trench,” said Lieutenant Nick Mayo, who leads the Trench Rescue Team at the Middletown Fire Department.

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Mayo was one of about two dozen first responders from Middletown spending the day some 10 feet below the surface – teaching the nuances of trench rescues.

The Middletown Fire Department is among the few teams in Connecticut that are versed in trench rescues. The Middletown Public Works Department comes in before the training and digs a trench so firefighters can practice the highly technical skills.

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The firefighters noted that during trench rescue training, it’s hard to simulate scenarios by design.

“This is one of the most dangerous training scenarios that we can perform because it’s a live trench, the walls want to move,” said Lieutenant Craig Vincelette, who is part of the Middletown team.

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To prepare for potential rescues of, for example, water department workers or construction workers, the Middletown Fire Department members use special equipment like struts and shores to fortify the walls of a trench that could potentially close in or collapse.

“If by chance the trench walls collapsed on them or they get stuck or have a medical emergency," Mayo added. "Before we can enter the trench, we have to shore it up to make the area safe for us so we can work in it.”

“Our goal is always the same no matter what we’re doing- it’s safety," Vincelette said. "It’s about saving lives in everything we do.”

Jimmy Altman is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at jaltman@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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