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Désirée Ávila, REALTOR®

O.P Fire Rescue’s New Superhero Team Exceeds Expectations


Meet Team Carnage: Oakland Park's Superhero Extrication Team

In sunny, busy and ever-growing South Florida car accidents are a frequent occurrence. From fender benders to more serious accidents, it all happens here, in South Florida. When it does, it is our heroes, the firefighters, that come to rescue the injured and administer life saving aid. Sometimes the call is cut and dry, easy peasy, but sometimes it is not. Sometimes the scene involves a victim or victims tangled in a car, needing to be extricated while receiving life saving aid at the same time. In these kind of scenarios a special kind of firefighter, a superhero, is needed to save the day.

Oakland Park Fire Rescue has just the superheroes to handle these situations:  Team Carnage. While they were formed less than a year ago, they have already proved they have the skill and the will to be the best at what they do. This is their story.

The Motivation to Be Better Rescuers

According to Oakland Park Fire Rescue’s Lieutenant, Chris Lunt, there were a couple of major factors that motivated them to build the team.

The number one factor was to become better rescuers. This was especially important because Oakland Park covers the largest stretch of I95 in Broward.

The second most important reason was the chance “to stare down the best in the world and go head to head with one another“, Lunt shared. These challenges build bonds and solidify the family that is the fire service.

Lastly, since the extrication team has a built-in rotation, most, if not all, of Oakland Park’s firefighters will be trained in extraction in a very short amount of time. This means that the community will have even more experienced firefighters to serve them. That is a win-win for the department and for the community.

Building the Team

The idea of building the team came from Marc Vermont, Oakland Park’s Assistant Fire Chief. He emailed the department asking for volunteers but the response was lukewarm. The only gung ho would-be extractors were Lt. Lunt and Lt. Chad Charlock. However, two people was four people to few to build the team. 

Interested in making the team work, Lt. Lunt took it upon himself to recruit others. In no time, Oakland Park had a rookie extrication team. Now, as a team, they faced their first challenge. They had to find a time, a place, equipment and props to practice with.

A Team Cut From the Same Cloth

According to Lieutenant Lunt, also the team’s Incident Commander (IC), before their first competition in November of 2022 they “...had absolutely zero chances or ability to train due to the huge logistical hurdles we faced. From learning the rules, to getting the equipment, and even just getting cars we didn’t feel ready…“. Nevertheless, Assistant Fire Chief Marc Vermont encouraged them to go anyways, knowing the experience would be good for the team’s growth. 

They forged ahead and with some help from Vincent Cicione, their logistics coordinator, they made it work. They trained for the first time just before their first competition. Even with such little time training together these 6 firefighters demonstrated that they were cut from superhero cloth. They placed 6th in the limited scenario and 10th overall.

The results fired them up and they could not wait to do it again. But first they needed to hone their skills.

Practice Makes Perfect

And hone their skills they did. They practiced no less than once a month for 8-10 hours each time. Everything they learned at the first competition, they applied at training. They doubled their efforts and became laser focused on outdoing themselves. This determination coupled with guidance from Carlos Eguiluz and Neil DeJesus, both retired firefighters and world champion extractors, Team Carnage was quickly becoming a team to be reckoned with. 

The chance to replicate their success came on May 2 and May 3, 2023 at the North American Vehicle Rescue Association (NAVRA) National Rescue Challenge in Lake Worth. At this competition Team Carnage faced two scenarios, a complex one and a limited one.

According to Lt. Lunt, the process for assessing the scenario is two fold. His first task is to assess the situation and give his team members direction.  Two team members are charged with doing a 360º survey both inside and outside of the car. While they do that he identifies which hazards need to be neutralized in order to begin administering first aid. Once that is completed, he performs his own 360º survey and coordinates with medic. Together they decide on 3 to 4 different plans. When this task is complete he directs the team as to what he believes is the best course of action. At the same time he is thinking ahead to possible issues and how to overcome them.

All of this happens in 2 minutes. If this is not the work of superheroes, what is?

Click on any photo below to pop out the photo gallery.

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Limited Scenario

In the “Limited” scenario the team does not have the use of heavy hydraulic tools. They must extract one victim with smaller tools and brute force. They have 20 mins from when they arrive complete the task. They must quickly assess the situation, remove hazards, stabilize the vehicle and cut as big of a hole as is possible in the car to administer aid. Finally, they must remove any hazards that could cause injuries as they take the victim out of the car.

Under this intense pressure, the team must become one because lives depend on it. They must  work together and communicate at all times in order to have the best outcome.

Complex Scenario

In the complex scenario the team can use hydraulic tools. However, their task is further complicated by a second and seriously injured victim. This unstable victim’s life may depend on the firefighters. The other patient is stable but has a limb trapped inside the car. They have 30 minutes to do what they did in the limited scenario, except they have to do it twice. 

In real life these situations can take a full team of 10+ rescuers 45 minutes or more . Team Carnage has 6 members charged with completing the task in 30 mins but “…my team does it well” Lt. Lunt affirms.

So how did these budding superheroes do?

They Did It Again!

After all that practicing and coaching by the best of the best the team did not meet their goal, the exceeded it.

Assistant Chief of Fire Rescue Marc Vermont commented, “We are very proud of our newly formed team and how much they have improved from their first competition in November 2022. This competition was so close that the top six teams were separated by a total of only 8 points”. 

While they didn’t bring home the gold, so to speak, Lt. Lunt affirms that “the competition is exciting and challenging but also confidence building …Every time I am at one of these competitions the brotherhood amongst the firefighters and competitors is immediate and everyone is teaching and learning from each other new techniques and ways to rescue. My team always leaves a competition having become better for being there“.

Team Carnage : Oakland Park Fire Rescue's Extrication Team

Ready to Soar

Team Carnage came so close to first place, that it deepened their determination to win. In preparation for their next competition, they have met, discussed how to improve, scheduled their next training, and purchased more props and items to push their skills to the next level.  Without question, Luis Wittynghan (Medic), Chad Charlock (Tech), Matt Amundson (Tech), Sean Hallman (Tech), Matt Nelligan (Tech), and of course, Lt. Lunt himself are preparing to soar as only superheroes can, straight to victory.


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