Having finished in the top 3 at the recent ROI National Challenge in Dundalk, the Cork County Fire & Rescue Service extrication team traveled to Cullera (Valencia) in Spain to take part in the APRAT (Spanish) National Challenge. Rescue Organisation Ireland was able to provide funding for this challenge, further funding was raised by the team themselves locally (West Cork) and through other Cork County brigades.
This National Challenge is the culmination of a number of regional heats throughout Spain so the Cork team acquited themselves brilliantly in coming 8th in the event overall.
Tom Collins writes:
Cork County Fire and Rescue service were delighted to accept the offer to represent Ireland at the Spanish national extrication challenge in April this year. Aprat, the Spanish RTC association, kindly invited three outside countries to their national challenge which were Portugal, Manchester England, and Cork County Ireland.
The 7th Spanish national RTC challenge was held in the beautiful coastal town of Cullera located on the south east coast where the rouged mountains bow down to meet the blue mediterranean sea. Cullera is built around a coastal inlet where a moderate fishing fleet is located and boasts beautiful golden sandy beaches. This setting was complemented by a very dramatic opening ceremony at the town's castle nestled high above the town.
The Challenge itself was held over three days with the RTC challenge and urban rope rescue challenge running simultaneously side by side. Supporters and spectators were spoiled with terraced seating, beautiful weather, and an outside bar providing refreshments throughout the three days. 18 teams were entered into the extrication challenge with each team competing in a standard and a complex scenario.
We found the scenarios very challenging, probably the most difficult we have come across to date. Each car had it's roof tactfully crushed and the theme of the challenge, as we understood, was the relocation of the roof prior to cutting. Access was very limited and there were plenty of props to deal with including motorbikes, tractor tyres, lampposts and motorway barriers. The casualties were all ems professionals and aprat kindly provided English speaking casualties for the invited teams. Each scenario was challenging to the extreme but they were also very realistic and relevant to the road networks feeding the major towns and cities.
Overall the Spanish people and especially the Spanish RTC teams and aprat committee treated us very well and were especially accommodating while we were planning the trip. The festivities climaxed on the final night with the closing ceremony boasting a seven course meal and local wines. We managed to be placed above the other visiting teams at eight place, which we were very happy with, and more importantly came away with a lot more knowledge which our Spanish friends were only too happy to share with us.
We would like to thank the ROI for making this trip possible for us and also to our other sponsors, Cork County Firefighters Association and Skibbereen fire brigade who helped finance our expenses. Many thanks to our friends in aprat and to all new friends made in a fantastic week of cutting cars, dealing with entrapped casualties, and sharing experiences.