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Emergency responders undergo rigorous training in Ojai

Ventura County firefighters in conjunction with California OES Urban Search and Rescue Regional Task Force spent the whole week training their crews for disasters.

Near the Matilija Dam in Ojai, intense training is taking place to help save lives — including an advanced rope rescue technician course.

“It is a state fire marshal course and we are out here teaching regional task force 7 which is their Search and Rescue team for Ventura County,” said John Cecena, a captain from the Oxnard Fire Department. “We are teaching their members advance leave of rope training for rope rescue emergencies.”

“This is just not Ventura County training. This is Oxnard City, and Ventura City training as a regional task force 7 group,” said Ventura County Fire Capt. Guy Horton.

The 40-hour course brings each person to a technician level, which is the highest level of training in California for rope rescue. Crews trained their rescues off high angle cliffs, between canyon walls, and even off the Matilija Dam wall. Crews used real-life victims instead of mannequins.

“We try to produce an environment for the students that is realistic and very challenging so when they get on a real emergency they are more than capable to go to work without any hesitation,” said Cecena.

It’s these types of training that gears crews up when disaster strikes.

“We went to Montecito as a group and you can tell the training paid off because they worked so well,” said Horton. “It is almost like one fire department when we get on scene with our task force.”

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