Firefighters get training at Rombout

By Michael Woyton Poughkeepsie Journal

Sunday, October 22, 2006

FISHKILL — Kenny Schirmer was collecting the orange traffic cones that had been used to delineate a helicopter landing zone Saturday.

The Rombout Fire Department second lieutenant had just taken part in a drill to improve safety when firefighters call for helicopters to transport victims.

“The drill was good to have,” Schirmer said, “because at any given time you might need to have a helicopter land.”

Indeed, two hours earlier firefighters and rescue workers from host Rombout, Glenham, Hughsonville and the Village of Fishkill fire departments finished up a classroom briefing on landing zone procedures.

Auto accident

That’s when the alarms went off.

Around 10 a.m., an automobile accident on I-84 sent Rombout volunteers off to the scene.

State police said Anthony Klein, 18, of Westown, Orange County, was trying to pass a truck when a gust of wind caused him to lose control. The car rolled over a couple of times and landed in the center median.

No other cars were involved.

Police said Klein was conscious and complaining of back and neck pain. He also had lacerations to the face.

Klein was taken by Alamo Ambulance to Rombout Station One on Main Street where he was transferred to a Life Evac helicopter.

He was flown to Saint Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie for further evaluation, Rombout 2nd Assistant Chief Wes Hall said.

The training session was to acquaint people with setting up a landing zone, radio procedures for calling a helicopter and the proper techniques of loading a patient into the aircraft.

“We saw an example of that today,” Hall said.

After the real-life situation was over, the drill continued when a New York State Police Bell 407 helicopter landed around 11:15 a.m.

The 100-foot-by-100-foot area in back of the firehouse had just last week been painted with a large blue-and-white square to signify the landing zone.

Sgt. Ralph Pineda, who piloted the craft and is stationed at Stewart International Airport, said drills like this make his job a little easier.

Learn expectations

When firefighters know what is expected when a helicopter is going to land, it is safer for everyone, he said.

“(The firefighters) know what we need, to give them what they need,” Pineda said.

Firefighters got tips on basic safety while near a helicopter and practiced loading a “victim” into the craft.

Mike Rose, who volunteers with the Glenham Fire District, participated in the training session.

He said since it can sometimes take a half hour to extricate someone from an auto accident, using a helicopter for transport can make a big difference in the time it takes to reach a hospital.

“You don’t know what you are going to run into with traffic,” he said.

Michael Woyton can be reached at

Photos of Helicopter from Accident:

Photos by Mike Howard RFD

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Photos of Lifeguard 18 from training:

Photos by Mike Howard

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Photos by Matt Brennan Lifeguard

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About Rombout

Rombout is an all volunteer fire company formed in 1971, and is named after the “ Rombout Patent ” which once covered most of the land in Dutchess County, NY. Rombout has about 50 active members, and many more exempt/associate members.

Rombout Fire Company protects the Rombout Fire District. Rombout is one of five fire departments or districts that protect the residents of the Town & Village of Fishkill, NY.

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