HUERFANO COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– When a wildfire sparks in Colorado, fire crews go to work; saving homes and sometimes lives, putting their own lives on the line.
“Knowing these guys have our back just gives us more muscle, more mental capability… knowing they can get us out of a bad situation,” said Leslie Blackwell, a 35-year firefighting veteran.
He is talking about the West Metro Rapid Extraction Module Support Team – or REMS. They are a group of specially trained firefighters who stage with active crews and come in when there’s trouble.
“If we get called that means somebody got hurt… obviously no one wants to see that,” REMS team member Brian Ertle said.
“They’re sort of like the special forces in the military. They are like the special forces out here,” Blackwell added.
The west metro REMs are one of only two teams in the state. They spend countless hours preparing for every situation.
“I think the need has been identified that someone should be out here looking out for the firefighters,” Ertle said.
While assigned to the Spring Fire in Southern Colorado, the team of four uses a crash scenario to fine tune their skills and improve their response times.
“The sooner we get someone to that definitive care, the better the outcome will be,” Ertle said.
After being on the line at dozens of wildfires, Blackwell says the only downside: there are not enough of these teams around.
“I’d like to see a REM team on every division it might seem likes that excessive, until you need them,” he said.
– Visit CBSDenver.com’s Colorado Wildfire section.
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Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.