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OC firefighters train Mexican firefighters

January 28, 2011 12:43:51 AM PST
Volunteer Mexican firefighters traveled to Orange County at their own expense to get training from firefighters in Santa Ana.

The firefighters from Guerrero, Mexico, asked the Santa Ana firefighters to teach them how to perform such things as rescues. So while Santa Ana firefighters perform a routine exercise, for Antonio Villafuerte and several of his colleagues, what they're learning is all new.

"They don't have any formal training. Everything they have learned has been on their own," said Capt. Jon Muir of the Santa Ana Fire Department.

The firefighters are shown various scenarios, such as helping someone who has fallen into a riverbed to freeing someone trapped inside a car. It's all tasks they face regularly within the 40 square miles of their city. The next closest fire department is four-and-a-half hours away.

Santa Ana firefighters taught them the most basic techniques and the most sophisticated, allowing the Mexican firefighters to modify their technique to go with the equipment they have available.

The Mexican firefighters have very little or no equipment. Out of 15 firefighters, they have only two breathing apparatus to share.

Villafuerte said their equipment is very limited, but they do what they can to save lives and fight fires.

"If we see safety violations, we ultimately tell them to stop, and then we'll correct them and help them in right direction," Muir said.

The Santa Ana firefighters will work with the Mexican firefighters for four days, sharing valuable skills that these firefighters are grateful to bring back home to help others.