Argo, an 8×8 amphibious all-terrain vehicle which is being used by Longford Civil Defence was put to the test last week at Terrafirma Training’s purpose-built training centre at Kilkea, Castledermot, Co Kildare last week as part of a training programme for its operators by Terrafirma Training (TFT).
Four volunteers from Longford Civil Defence travelled to TFT’s Millbrook Off-Road Centre at Kilkea recently to undergo training on this vital new piece of rescue equipment.
Photo: L-R: (Thomas Greene TFT, Civil Defence volunteers Donal Quinn, Michael Heaney, Alan Greally & Ronan Duffy, Civil Defence Officer Seamus Kiernan and Kevin Jones TFT)
TFT took delivery of the Argo prior to the course to enable the TFT instructors to familiarise themselves with the equipment and health & safety protocol, ensuring it would be safe to carry out training on and subsequently be used in Civil Defence operations. TFT’s training facilities are ideally suited for the training of all types of off-road and all-terrain vehicles, with the site possessing varying terrain and conditions.
Heavy rain which fell on the previous night of training made conditions perfect to simulate the kind of conditions which may be encountered by the emergency or voluntary services using this vehicle.
TFT’s strict policy on any training course is of course health & safety, which is a generically vital part of any course content and, with this in mind, a full risk assessment was discussed and completed for the day’s training ahead. Route assessment and planning is paramount when undertaking any off-road task. An “if in doubt stay out” attitude was adopted and training began.
A full day’s training on the Argo saw the trainees tackling all kinds of terrain. An ongoing assessment, coupled with question and answer sessions, was carried out by TFT instructors Kevin Jones ad Thomas Greene throughout the day to ascertain that all important points had been understood.
During the day, a training scenario was set up where one of TFT’s instructor’s in a TFT 4×4 off road vehicle drove a route through boggy ground and subsequently got the vehicle stuck up to its doors in mud. The 4×4 had to be winched out leaving deep tyres marks in the ground. One of the Civil Defence trainees, along with a TFT instructor, drove the same route safely and successfully leaving very few marks on the same ground.
CDO Seamus Kiernan and his team all embraced the course and passed with flying colours and were presented with Certificates. The day ended with a course critique from the trainees, all agreeing that the course met their expectations and ticked all the right boxes.
Emergency Times caught up with the TFT’s instructors Kevin Jones and Thomas Greene, who are the only two instructors in Ireland who possess Lantra and City & Guilds instructor and assessor level in off road driving, ATV, Winching and off road trailer handling.
Kevin told Emergencytimes.ie “We have been bowled over by the professionalism of all Civil Defence personnel that have visited us at Millbrook Off Road Centre. TFT recently carried out training of all Civil Defence approved driving instructors (ADI’s) in 4×4 off road driving to Lantra accredited level, which is equivalent to FETAC Level 5”.
Speaking about the handling of the Civil Defence driver in one of the training scenarios mentioned above, Thomas Greene said “Copious amounts of bragging rights were issued to the Civil Defence driver and this more than capable and, more to the point, safe piece of equipment. A truly fit for purpose vehicle”.