'Man down' less scary for local firefighters thanks to new tool - WNEM TV 5

'Man down' less scary for local firefighters thanks to new tool

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

Hearing “man down” is a firefighter’s worst nightmare.

Firefighters are well trained in rescuing people and pets caught in a fire, but when one of their own needs saving rescue efforts can get more complicated.

Now, a new resource in Mid-Michigan is aimed at quickly saving a firefighter’s life.

“Bags are used for firefighter rescue situations,” said Lt. Brandon Hausbeck with the Saginaw Fire Department.  

Four RIT bags, or rapid intervention unit, are now in the hands of firefighters at the department.

“So a crew of firefighters will enter with this RIT bag, hook the firefighter up to the bag. Fresh supply of breathing air. There’s also some hand tools in there. If the person is hung up on wires or things like that we can free them,” Hausbeck said.

Fire crews used their basement and a dummy to conduct exercises Wednesday aimed at training these how to utilize the new tool.

“We can’t serve the citizens if we can’t help ourselves first. We have to make sure that we're always ready for anything, and you know, sometimes things don’t always go right,” Hausbeck said.

While these units come with a hefty price tag, Hausbeck said the cost was completely covered by the 100 Club.

“We wouldn’t be able to purchase this equipment on our own. Having the 100 Club graciously give up this grant has allowed us to get them, which otherwise we wouldn’t have,” he said.

It’s equipment that is replacing what Hausbeck called a very outdated system.

“Our old system - we basically had an old duffel bag with an air bottle inside. We didn’t have any of the specialized fittings. We didn’t have any of the layout. It was very crude and not ideal in an emergency. Very outdated,” he said.

Hausbeck said the new bags are putting some of the firefighters’ minds at ease.

“It’s basically an insurance policy. Having that there, knowing that its ready and operable in the event of a situation like that,” he said.

The four RIT bags cost roughly $3,700 and were paid for through a grant from the 100 Club of Saginaw County.

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