2012 June 2 Recovery Course by Mark

Photos are here!

The Two Rivers Jeep Club held Critical Incident Command and Recovery Training on June 2nd , 2012.  The weather was great and it hadn’t rained for a couple of days so we found the trails were pretty dry.  Turnout was low again this year with only sixteen club members and the presenters showing up at the VFW for breakfast.  We had plenty of food and good conversation before class started. 

Dave Christensen talked me into being the coordinator and an instructor for the class a couple of years ago as he’s forgotten how to get to Pittsfield.  The class is designed to be a basic introductory recovery class covering various areas such as Critical Incident Command, liability issues, club rules and policies, assessing the individual situation, assessing injuries, providing medical assistance, contacting local first responders and vehicle recovery.  We consider vehicle recovery as everything from using a strap or winch to pull a vehicle to getting a rolled over vehicle back onto its wheels.  We also cover how to deal with injuries and our responsibilities in working with responding first responders when needed.   

Chief Steve Gambrill again returned to provide instruction.  He brings over forty four years experience as a fire fighter and thirty years of command experience as a Fire Chief with many certifications and training classes in Critical Incident Command, injured persons extrication and vehicle recovery to the table.  He is also an instructor at the Richland Community College Fire Science Program.

Dave Bell also returned and bought his expertise to the class this year.  He is an engineer who works with, designs and inspects lifting devices, straps and chains.  He also runs an of road vehicle shop where he builds complete vehicles, bumpers, winch plates and recovery points.  Dave spent three years active duty Army and five years in the Army Reserves as a wheeled vehicle mechanic.  He was assigned to a HEMTT wrecker crew, was a trainer for his units’ basic recovery class and has seen a lot of damage caused by the failure of recovery equipment.

My experience includes working as a wrecker operator in my younger years, being in the medics for four years in the Air Force and twenty nine years law enforcement experience.  My law enforcement training included certification in Critical Incident Response and Critical Incident Command by the Illinois State Police.  I was the director of a 400 hour Part Time Police Academy and I am a certified instructor by the Illinois Law Enforcement Officers Training and Standards Board for many law enforcement classes.

The Chief and I spent about an hour at the VFW in classroom training and discussion.  Attendees asked many questions and bought up many good points for further discussion.  While talking about some dangers faced on the trails, such as bee stings, and the possible ramifications for some people an issue was pointed out that no one seems to have considered in the past.  It involved people with allergies to latex and how this could affect both the treatment of injured on the trail and what being struck by a water balloon made of the wrong material could do to someone with a severe allergy to latex.  It’s something for everyone in the club to consider.   

Club member Andrew Bauer donated a slightly used Jeep to the club for use in this and future classes and Dave Bell spent many hours getting it ready for our use.  Dave then towed it to Murphy’s Law where everyone met for further classroom and then hands on training.  Dave and Gary “Murphy” Williams had the Jeep on its side in a creek upon our arrival. 

The first thing Dave spoke about was the weight of a vehicle and how the weight changes exponentially when on inclines or stuck to various depths in mud.  A lot of the information came form his experience and training in the military.  He then spoke about various vehicle and equipment specific items, such as the difference between tow hooks and mounted recovery points and he explained how to properly mount both plus the reasons for proper mounting of each.  Additional items included the difference between tow and recovery straps and their proper use, tree savers and “D” rings.  He gave a short class on winches, proper sizing, duty cycles and clutches, the use of cable or rope and how to properly use a winch. 

Dave, the Chief and I were there to observe and blow the whistle if we observed an unsafe act, not to tell anyone how to make the recovery.  One of the most important items that we spoke about in the classroom was the importance of one person being in charge and directing the recovery.  Once someone takes charge everyone is assigned duties and those not involved in the recovery need to stand clear of the recovery and be quiet.  There is nothing worse than the person directing the recovery giving winching directions and then to have one or more uninvolved people thinking that their input is needed and shouting orders such as winch in/out or stop.  If you are not involved, shut up, you don’t need to confuse the situation and possibly get someone hurt!

Our goal was to allow participants to get involved,  use the information that we provided them and get some practical experience in recovery.   A total of four different scenarios were set up and each team had to pick a person to be in charge, assess the situation, organize their actions and then work together to make the recovery.  I believe that everyone there saw how hard it can be to take charge and give direction to other people while supervising a recovery operation.  There is a lot on the plate when you accept that responsibility and not everyone can do it, which is also part of the information covered in the training.

After the class ended we spent a couple of hours wheeling on Murphy’s Law, really enjoying the relatively dry ground.  Murphy has added some new area and it was fun.  There was a climb that was very vertical and only three of those present  wanted to attempt the climb.  Dennis made it to the top but failed to get over the crest and he made the climb before I could get the camera out.  Dan got to the top and his front end got a lot of air but he was also stopped at the crest.  A little more throttle and he made it over.  Adam then made the attempt and also reached the crest where his front end came off the ground and when it slammed down broke the u-joints in the front drive shaft ending his attempt.  Before we ended the day Murphy just had to take us to the only mud hole and climb on the property so we all went home filthy.   

Many of us then adjourned to the Maya Mexican Restaurant for a long debriefing in their air conditioned comfort where a meal and a few cool beverages were consumed.  I think that everyone had a pretty good time and I hope that they took home some things that they may have never experienced or thought about previously. 

I would like to thank everyone for attending and the Chief and Dave Bell for all of their help, time and experience.  The Chief's experience and knowledge is obvious as soon as he starts to speak.  Dave added things to the class that neither the Chief nor I had experience in.  Dave spent a lot of time working on the Jeep and getting it ready for our use which included picking it up, draining the fluids and then bringing it to Murphy’s.  He’s one of the many people in the club that put in a lot of work behind the scenes and don’t receive much attention so I want to thank him again.

For the last couple of years I’ve made pleas for a donor vehicle and club member Andrew Bauer needs to be thanked for coming through for us.  The vehicle will be stored at Murphy’s and Dave in his wisdom removed enough parts that we are pretty sure Murphy won’t be taking anymore from it and it should be ready to roll the next time a class is held.  We owe Murphy a shout out for again letting us use his property and storing the vehicle for us.  He’s also a pretty entertaining and good guide so if you haven’t ridden on Murphy’s Law you should put it on your list.

We intend to hold a recovery class every year and hope that more of the club members will take advantage of the training.   I’m not sure what people think the class will be about but it includes more than simply explaining how to tow or winch a vehicle.  The board needs to ensure that all trail guides attend this class if they have not done so in the past.

Created: 10 June 2012