AUBURN | The parking lot behind the Auburn Holiday Inn looked like a horror film.
A pickup truck sagged under the crushing weight of a fallen cylindrical cement block. A smashed silver sedan stood sandwiched underneath a tractor trailer. A cement truck laid on its side on a blacktop bed covered in glinting shards of shattered glass.
And inside every mortally wounded vehicle sat an injured individual in need of rescuing.
Passerby, however, rested easy knowing the nightmarish scene was staged.
Approximately 50 firefighters and emergency personnel gathered in Auburn Saturday to participate in a day-long heavy vehicle rescue and extrication seminar, where they learned how to handle motor vehicle accidents involving large trucks.
Chief Jeff Dygert, of the Auburn Fire Department, said the seminar was also organized to give firefighters and private-sector workers — like tow-truck operators — a chance to get to work with each other.
"A lot of these responses would require multiple departments," he said. "It's important for all of us to work together so we can have a better response in emergency situations."
The situations emergency workers from the county's Emergency Management Office and the firefighters hailing from departments in Auburn, Aurelius, Cayuga, Moravia, Throop, Owasco and Weedsport faced were all derived from history.
Firefighters decked out in their full gear buzzed around the sun-baked lot with purpose, sawing into metal-cased truck cabs and freeing dummies from flattened vehicles. Representatives from Big Red Towing, Pullen's Truck Center, Amkus Rescue System and Para-tech Rescue Equipment were also on scene.
Along with giving emergency responders from different departments a chance to learn how to handle large-truck accidents and work together, Dygert said the training seminar also allowed firefighters, towers and county workers an opportunity to register what type of equipment each group owned.
Ron Pullen, of Pullen's Truck Center, brought the heavy vehicles used as the simulation's props. The certified trainer said most of the vehicles were acquired with training seminars in mind.
As the emergency responders learned how to respond during large-vehicle accidents, Pullen said he helped the firefighters learn what roles towers can play in rescue scenarios.
"I teach towing to two companies," he explained. "In turn, anytime I have a chance to do cross training, I'll do it."
After all, in emergency situations, it takes many people to save one life.