Simulated crash demonstrates SLT fire crews’ skills |

Simulated crash demonstrates SLT fire crews’ skills

Jack Barnwell
South Lake Tahoe fire personnel treat a "victim" during a simulated car crash at Lake Tahoe Airport on Tuesday as part of the fire department's demonstration of skills.
Jack Barnwell / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Local fire department crews sprang into action Tuesday when they demonstrated their skills during a simulated car crash, driver extraction and possible fire risk at Lake Tahoe Airport.

Two three-person fire engines took action, tearing apart a wrecked mini-van in front of the administration building as city council members watched from the council chambers.

According to South Lake Tahoe Fire Department Chief Jeff Meston, crews were tasked to address the rescue, a possible car fire and leakage of radiator fluid and oil, which are environmental hazards in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

The fire crews employed the Jaws of Life in order to excise the “victim” Karlee Koeppen from the vehicle while Fire Capt. Leslie Asbury held a fire hose at the ready to put out possible fire.

After Koeppen was extracted, crews immediately placed her on a stretcher and removed her from the accident scene.

Dry ice was used to simulate smoke.

Tracy Franklin, the city’s public information officer, said the demonstration was part of a series various city departments will be performing for the city council over the next six months.

“This is also something the fire department does through the Citizens Academy Course,” Franklin said. “Participants are allowed to use the fire hose, Jaws of Life and other real tools for life saving methods.”

For Koeppen, who volunteered as the victim, it was a reminder to drive safely.

“It was really scary being in the vehicle even though I wasn’t hurt,” Koeppen said, still wearing prosthetic injuries and fake blood. “But it was fun doing the experience of knowing what could happen if that was me in that car.”

Asbury, the fire captain, said the demonstration provided a dual purpose of training. While only a simulated accident, Asbury said the fire crews treated it like a real one.

“The continued training is important for us,” Asbury said following the demonstration. “It’s the key to success so you know what to do when the scene really comes.”

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