Firefighters compete for best road rescue at Claudelands

Dominico Zapata/ Stuff

Hamilton is host to the 2017 Australasian Rescue Challenge, pitting 20 firefighting teams against each other at Claudelands Arena.

A car slams into a fallen tree trunk in Claudelands.

The driver is unconscious and trapped. The passenger panics and leaps into the path of a following car.

It's a scenario based on a real-life emergency faced by firefighters, and they're on the clock.

A New South Wales Firefighting teams puts jams a hydraulic tool in a car door as assessors watch on.
DOMINICO ZAPATA/STUFF

A New South Wales Firefighting teams puts jams a hydraulic tool in a car door as assessors watch on.

A New South Wales team is quick to the scene, plastic hammers swinging from belts. The medic clambers over the tree, folding himself feet first into the car.

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"This could have easily happened on a wet night like last night," says Ceara Owen-Perry, president of the United Fire Brigades' Association.

A volunteer, complete with a bloodied, broken ankle, has fallen off a ladder in one trauma scenario.
DOMINICO ZAPATA/STUFF

A volunteer, complete with a bloodied, broken ankle, has fallen off a ladder in one trauma scenario.

The association is hosting the 2017 Australasian Rescue Challenge, pitting firefighting teams against each other at Hamilton's Claudelands Arena on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The public are invited to watch the 20 teams - 10 from Australia, nine from New Zealand, and one from Hong Kong - run through three road rescue and two trauma challenges.

"Anything from a shark bite to a cardiac arrest," she says.

Ceara Owen-Perry, United Fire Brigades' Association general manager, says the event provides an unique training ...
DOMINICO ZAPATA/STUFF

Ceara Owen-Perry, United Fire Brigades' Association general manager, says the event provides an unique training opportunity for the firefighters.

Scenarios are played out with wrecked hatchbacks, cutting and crushing hydraulic tools, and live volunteers painted in fake blood.

In the time-critical pit, three assessors note every call and command made by the five firefighters with 30 minutes to save the trapped volunteers.

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A protective plastic film is wrapped around the trapped driver.

"Glass breaking!" is hollered, before a loud "pop" from a rear window.

Real people are invovled in the crash scenarios, often covered in fake blood.
DOMINICO ZAPATA/STUFF

Real people are invovled in the crash scenarios, often covered in fake blood.

"Everyone likes to see a firefighter in action," Owen-Perry says.

Watching on the sidelines are the burly Wollongong crew, champions of the 2015 competition.

"It can all go pear shaped on the day," leading station officer Andy Barber says.

Wollongong firefighters Stuart Willick, Justin Taylor, Andy Barber and John Robinson were champions at the 2015 competition.
DOMINICO ZAPATA/STUFF

Wollongong firefighters Stuart Willick, Justin Taylor, Andy Barber and John Robinson were champions at the 2015 competition.

They're not talking up their chances, all the challenges are tough.

"The best scenario is when you get to the pub."

 - Stuff

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