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January 26, 2011
January Snowstorm Poses Numerous Challenges
Rescue Squad responds to 48 incidents, including a stubborn house fire
A snowstorm that paralyzed the D.C. Metropolitan area also brought challenges to the Rescue Squad with icy roads and sidewalks, paralyzed traffic, and numerous calls for help.
During the 24-hour period, Rescue Squad units from its main station and the satellite ambulance at Bethesda Station 26 responded to 48 incidents, with some requiring multiple units. This is more than double the number of calls in an average day. These calls included 1 working house fire, 7 box alarms, and 8 personal injury automobile collisions. Many of these calls were during snow conditions and required significant work.
Firefighters Face Live Wire, Downed Trees and Power Lines
The Rescue Squad responded along with units from Bethesda, Chevy Chase, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Naval Medical Center to a stubborn fire in the walls and floor joists between the basement and first floor in a 1930's era house on Roosevelt Street, near Suburban Hospital. It started when a tree fell and shorted the electric service line to the house. For the initial part of the incident the fire was being fed by an active electrical short.
The Rescue Squad crew gained access to the house and found it charged with smoke. Although they were able to quickly complete a primary search of the structure, deployment of initial firefighting hose lines was challenging because crews were blocked from vehicle access to the structure by downed power lines and trees on both sides of the house. There was also a live wire arcing near the electric meter. The fire extended into the walls of the house, which necessitated extensive overhaul operations to ensure that all of the fire was found and exposed. Firefighters from the Rescue Squad and other units ultimately used up all of the spare SCBA bottles on scene. Air Unit 716, from Silver Spring, was delayed in responding because it was tied up on a fire in another part of the county, but ultimately arrived on scene to refill bottles.
Neighborhood streets were very slippery, and apparatus was blocked out because of a fallen tree and wires across the street. In fact, another limb from the same tree fell during the incident and struck a firefighter. Fortunately, his protective gear did its job and he was able to walk away for evaluation of a minor injury by Medic 741.
"Excellent Team Effort"
The Rescue Squad was able to handle the large number of calls because of the many volunteer firefighters, paramedics, and EMTs who came in to ride extra as a supplement to the Roving Crew that was on duty, and the Day Staff, which made an outstanding effort during their normal shift and that night as well. “The strong staffing that we had available for the night shift allowed us to handle this tremendous amount of calls," said Rescue Squad Chief Ned Sherburne. "This was an excellent team effort.”
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