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Fighting More Than Fires

April 25, 2014, 6:09 PM by Brady Mallory

Fighting More Than Fires

As a firefighter with Urban Search and Rescue, a big part of Adam Nusbaum's job requires being hoisted into the air, tethered by ropes and cables.

"I mean, dangling from a rope is pretty fun," Nusbaum said.

What 30-year-old Nusbaum does on any given day is serious business. On Friday, he demonstrated how you would care for someone during a high-angle rope rescue. The tutorial involved  using static nylon kernmantle ropes, anchoring and belaying devices, friction rappel devices, and other specialized equipment to reach victims and safely recover them.

"It could be a water rescue down at the Palisades, with everything that goes on down there," Nusbaum said.

U-SAR firefighters are the men and women who respond to several different types of search and rescue missions. One of them included an 11-hour recovery of two people who drowned at Falls Park last year. Firefighters spend an extra two years learning how to do all of this. They continue their training, and are constantly educating themselves for anything and everything. Situations may include flood protection.

"Back in, what was it? 2011? When we had the Missouri River Flooding. We had people from our department deployed for 84 days," Battalion Chief Jay Titus, SF Fire Rescue, said.

This is also the crew that will pull you from the rubble if a building collapses.

"It's a lot of hard work. You're breeching through concrete and cutting steel and learning how to shore buildings," Titus said.

The Sioux Falls Fire Department employees 195 members, and Titus said all of them have skills that go beyond extinguishing the flames. The whole profession is not what you would call a typical nine to five.

"We come in at eight in the morning, and leave the next day at eight in the morning. 24-hour shifts," Nusbaum said.

Even when they are attached to ropes, and repelling from way up high; Nusbaum and his colleagues are very down-to-earth about what they do.

"It is our job, I guess. It's not something we're just out doing. It's something we train on a lot, take classes. We train on this," Nusbaum said. "We're expected to do this, and that's why we took the job."

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