Ready to answer the call: Rescue squad completes training

Published 9:56 am Friday, April 23, 2021

The Bell County Rescue Squad recently hosted a confined space training class that was attended by members of multiple agencies.

According to a press release, members of the Middlesboro, Harlan, and Corbin city fire departments and the Cumberland Gap Tunnel Authority attended the training, along with members of the Bell County Rescue Squad.

Bell County Rescue Squad Captain Steven Barton explained some of the specifics of the training.

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“We start out learning about confined space and the dangers of it,” Barton said. “And then we move into what is referred to as a permit-required confined space, which means there’s some kind of danger inside the space such as low oxygen or mechanical or electrical danger inside…and then later in the week we move into rescue procedures.”

Barton explained the training is broken down into three parts.

“The first category is awareness, and that’s where you learn about the confined spaces and the dangers of them,” Barton said. “The second is operations level, and that’s when you can go in and physically do work, and you know how to test for gases and know all the safety procedures to enter. The third is the technician level where you can go in and you can perform rescues inside the space and learn different techniques to get people out.”

Participants completed all three sections of the course.

“The reason we had this class this week is we’ve been accumulating equipment for the last couple of years to create a confined space rescue unit inside the Bell County Rescue Squad,” Barton explained. “If someone has a confined space issue, we can go and do the rescue.”

Barton said the unit is now operational, with equipment purchases and training complete.

Barton explained the advantage of having multiple departments complete the training is agencies can then help each other out via mutual aid agreement if necessary.

“They can bring extra people in if it’s a larger event,” Barton said. “They need it for their departments also, so we got together and did this class.”

Barton explained that while events requiring a confined space rescue are rare, they do happen.

“There’s a low probability of it happening,” Barton said. “But it requires a lot of equipment to make the rescue happen. It’s one of those things for which you train for years, but hopefully, never do it. But if you do, you’re prepared.”

Barton pointed out the Bell County Rescue Squad is a volunteer agency that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He explained the members are dispatched by Bell County Dispatch.

“Our main thing is auto extrications,” Barton said. “We did a lot of the getting people out of cars during the floods. Any kind of a rescue in Bell County, we’ll be there.”

Those who wish to volunteer with the Bell County Rescue Squad can pick up an application at the weekly Bell County Rescue Squad meeting on Mondays at 7 p.m. at the headquarters located on 17th Street in Middlesboro.

For more information, call 606-248-7444. To make a donation to the Bell County Rescue Squad, go to and hit the donate button.