In recent weeks, firefighters from the Lady’s Island St. Helena Fire District have accumulated state, national, and even international awards for their exceptional performances.
Firefighter Heidi Charest earned top honors within our state for her efforts in the Firefighter Combat Challenge held in Myrtle Beach. Charest was challenged to scale 5 flights of stairs, hoist a 30 pound hose up 5 stories, return to ground level, move a 150 pound block 5 feet using a sledge hammer, pull a water filled fire hose 100’ and then finish it all with a 150 pound dummy drag 75’ to the finish line. She managed to accomplish these tasks in full firefighter clothing in less than two and half minutes her respective teams. In doing so, Heidi brought home first place in our state in the female tandem with local firefighter Heather Callender and team divisions with her teammates Heather Callender, Marie Antoinette McCulley and Holly Nourigat.
Additionally, the Lady’s Island St. Helena Fire District Auto Extrication Team, (see photo) who specializes in removing people from mangled cars, placed first in our state, second in the U.S, and sixth in North America, and seventh in the world for their combined efforts. Having competed against teams from Sweden, Great Britain, Canada and others in the U.S., the team earned numerous honors for their exceptional work with the Jaws of Life and similar lifesaving tools.
Consisting of six firefighters — Team Captain Eric Taylor, Medic Scott Sampson, Specialists Billy McKay, Jamie Earle, David Sewell, and John Bekemeyer — the team was given three different simulated auto accidents and were graded on each. Grading criteria ranged from patient care to overall safety as they were given 10 or 20 minutes respectively to take a trapped individual out of a pile of wrecked metal and glass.
When all is said and done, these firefighters spent much of their own time and monies to train, prepare, and then compete in these competitions. In the end they each gained advanced training that allows them to provide even better service to those whom the Lady’s Island St. Helena Fire District protect. Additionally, all that was learned through such competitions will soon be shared with all of the firefighters in the department in an ongoing training regimen that has for many years improved the overall service that the Fire District offers all who are in need.