A file picture of firefighters working on the Liberty Fire. Courtesy: Inciweb

HELENA – Twenty-five new volunteer firefighters will respond to calls throughout Lewis and Clark County and on Saturday, they learned basic vehicle extrication techniques near Helena.

One of the techniques includes vehicle stabilization, which involves getting crew members or people in and out of a damaged vehicle safely, as well as how to cut around a car.

“Keeping in mind the big picture around you, so 360 degrees heads up all the time, so you’re looking out for other vehicles, other car accidents, other people, fuel leaks, spills,” Tannin Trafton, a volunteer firefighter, said.

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When first responders arrive at a scene, they first observe the overall picture of what’s happening and eventually work down to a smaller picture of what the next steps should be.

Trafton has been an East Valley volunteer firefighter for three years as well as a wildland volunteer firefighter. “It’s a whole multitude, it’s a big dynamic situation that we are working in,” Trafton said.

Trafton was one of the instructors and he showed the new crew how to use hand tools such as a Halligan tool, which is used to access hoods and trunks on cars.

Another tool used was the “Jaws of Life,” a hydraulic rescue tool that includes cutters and spreaders.

“Safety first if you want to be part of a great group of people who are like-minded and want help the community out then this is the place for you,” Brad Smith, a volunteer firefighter, said.

Smith said he was a firefighter 20 years ago in east Texas and moved to Montana two months ago.

“I thought this would be a great way help the community out, meet the neighborhood, and get to know the area and try to help some people,” Smith said. “It’s really satisfying. It gives you a purpose but also knowing that you’re helping everyday people.”

Trafton said counties across Montana are always looking for new volunteer firefighters. He suggested that anyone interested should contact their local volunteer fire department to learn how to help.