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Mercer Island firefighters dig South end trench during rescue practice

During specialized training over the duration of two weeks, Mercer Island firefighters updated their skills for trench rescue emergencies.

Residents passing by the South end fire station may have noticed the unusual activity — people in the ground. The annual training is required by law and one challenge is to find a suitable location to dig a trench.

The South end station is scheduled to be demolished and served as the perfect digging location.

A specialized knowledge about soil types and behaviors — especially under different weather conditions — is required for this type of rescue. Firefighters learned how to stabilize the soils and safely remove individuals who may be trapped or buried in a collapsed trench. Trench rescues are relatively rare events, but scheduled practice remains critical.

Firefighters train and drill for an average of two to three hours each day, in addition to their other duties.

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