When the Effingham Fire Department learned about the SBL Bonutti Clinic construction, it leaped at the chance to use the former building as a temporary training center.
“We keep our ears opened for any old construction coming down. Usually, it’s unusable, old houses being demolished, not large commercial buildings with many rooms,” Matt Carpenter, Effingham Fire Department training officer, explained.
Given the building’s size, the first responders executed search and rescue drills with a smoke machine. The firefighters practiced forcing doors open and breaching walls.
“We don’t get many opportunities to train in commercial buildings, especially ones where we can breach walls and doors. We greatly appreciate the ability to provide quality training for our firefighters,” Carpenter remarked.
Multiple local and state law enforcement agencies also took the opportunity to practice crisis mitigation skills at the former SBL Bonutti Clinic for two weeks. The Effingham Fire Department notified 911 dispatch and the public on Facebook before starting the training.
“Otherwise, some people may see our fake smoke billowing through the windows and wonder what’s happening,” Carpenter said.
On March 5, the Effingham Fire Department conducted a full simulated response by sending firefighters in the fire truck and cutting the roof open to direct smoke out of the building. Acting out real-life crisis scenarios helps firefighters recall information quicker during real emergencies. Physically moving around pseudo-hazardous environments allows them to make sense of the challenges they will face.
“This hands-on instruction reduces the risk to our firefighters and, ultimately, helps our community,” Carpenter emphasized.
The building demolition began March 8. For more information about the newly-constructed SBL Bonutti Clinic, please call 217-342-3400. An open house will be hosted on Sept. 8.