Fire fighters from the 8th Civil Engineer Squadron disembark their fire truck at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, March 26, 2019. Fire fighters have six minutes to respond to a fall victim being suspended by their safety harness before the situation can become life-threatening. (U.S. Air Force phot by Senior Airman Stefan Alvarez)
Fire fighters from the 8th Civil Engineer Squadron disembark their fire truck at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, March 26, 2019. Fire fighters have six minutes to respond to a fall victim being suspended by their safety harness before the situation can become life-threatening. (U.S. Air Force phot by Senior Airman Stefan Alvarez)

8th CES firefighters execute life-saving training

by Senior Airman Stefan Alvarez
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The 8th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department doesn’t just respond to cats stuck in trees, they also execute life-saving actions.

The cargo aircraft that often come and go at Kunsan Air Base require a special piece of heavy machinery to unload the pallets of cargo. There are two variants of these machines: the 60K or 25K Aircraft Cargo Loader. Both are often called a “k-loader” and can reach a maximum height of 18.5 feet. Personnel working on the top of the loaders are required to wear a safety harness in case they fall off.

“The harnesses can easily support just over 300 pounds,” said Master Sgt. Robert Wocking, 731st Air Mobility Squadron Operating Location-Alpha contracting officer representative. “It will save you from falling off and hitting the ground, but if you stay hung up long enough it could be life threatening. Blood circulation will get cut off and you can potentially swing around and hit the actual k-loader itself, causing more injuries.”

The dangers from being suspended in the air for too long is why the fire department has to respond as quickly as possible, specifically under six minutes. Training to execute this in that amount of time means life or death for someone who might be hanging off the edge.

“This is the first time the fire department has been tested on this on this kind of emergency,” said Tech. Sgt. Felix Colon, 8th Civil Engineer Squadron fire fighter. “We have a lot of cargo aircraft coming and going and personnel using the the k-loaders frequently, so it’s something we want to start training on frequently.”

The safety and well-being of the Airmen is a top priority at the 8th Fighter Wing. The Wolf Pack takes the opportunity to go the extra mile and do additional training to expand on the skills and competencies of the emergency responders. This ensures they have the experience and equipment to do their job with a high level of proficiency and professionalism.

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