Innovative collapsed building simulator to appear at Keystone Fire Conference

Sep 25
Category | News

New London, PA, August 3, 2015:
“Imagine a hockey player showing up for training camp having not worked out all summer,” said Riley Cote, former left winger for the Philadelphia Flyers. “The player wouldn’t make it through the first day on the ice!” Cote believes that first responder deaths and injuries can be drastically reduced through fitness, wellness and survival training programs. “Most people don’t think of it this way, but firefighters are no different than athletes,” commented Ashley Cote, Riley’s wife, who is President and Director of Operations for All Hands Working, a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the number of line-of-duty deaths and injuries directly related to firefighters health and wellness.

To that end, PPES was invited by All Hands Working to showcase their newly redesigned Guardian Safety and Survival Training Simulator at this year’s Keystone Firefighter Conference in Oak, PA, near Valley Forge. During the three-day event, running Friday, August 7 through Sunday, August 9, first responders will be able experience the vast capabilities and training possibilities of the simulator for themselves.

Designed and manufactured by Personal Protection Equipment Specialists (PPES), the Guardian replicates the experience of a rescue operation in a three-story structure where the third floor has collapsed onto the second floor and the second floor has pancaked onto the ground floor. “It’s amazing how many times I’ve been told how realistic the experience is,” says Tom Quinn, the developer of the Guardian and the president of PPES. “We’re pleased that All Hands Working supports first responders safety to such a degree.”

In April the new unit was unveiled at the International Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) in Indianapolis where hundreds of first responders experienced firsthand the life-threatening conditions that the Guardian realistically replicates.

At the Fire Expo 2015 in Harrisburg this past May, over 200 first responders suited up and experienced the confined-space conditions of a collapsed building. According to Mr. Quinn, the experience these first responders received validities the value of the improvements made to the Guardian during the early part of this year.

The new enhancements are most apparent in the thoroughly redesigned command center where the training session can be continuously monitored and recorded by an expanded bank of video cameras inside and out. In spite of the pitch-black interiors, trainees are under the constant watch of infrared cameras.

Other advancements include better smoke disbursement throughout the unit and an expanded audio effects system that fills the simulator not only with the disturbing sounds of cries for help one often hears within a collapsed building, but also the outside distractions that are common at a disaster scene. The Guardian includes specially designed LED escape lighting and additional egress and ingress doors among the other improvements. Sewer-line rescue, window repelling and leaking gas line training are some of the additional props incorporated in the unit. Earthquake Aftershock/Unstable Building Kit, Railcar Training Dome Kit and other specialized training devices are also available.

When it comes to the importance of continuous training, Quinn is in full agreement with Cote. “Without it, a first responder cannot be fully prepared. Fire companies and organizations that deal with the fire industry must maintain an ongoing training regiment,” said Quinn.  “Because of time constraints and scheduling difficulties, fire academies are not a viable option for many fire companies,” continued Quinn.

Training must also constantly change, according to Quinn. “Once the scenarios become familiar, the challenge is gone and the first responder loses interest.” The Guardian attacks that issue by offering literally hundreds of scenarios replicating nearly every type of disaster imaginable, including disasters that are the result of a terrorist attack or an act of nature.

Manufactured at the company’s Atglen, Pennsylvania, facility, the Guardian meets stringent New York City firefighting and rescue specifications while addressing the training needs of FEMA Urban Search & Rescue operations, terrorist task forces, Federal law enforcement, the military, and emergency medical service providers.

More information is available at the PPES website, www.PPES.US or by contacting Jay Gundel & Associates at (302) 658-1674. Photos and details of this innovative simulator are available and demonstrations can be arranged by request.