Search and rescue training
By Staff Sgt. Curtis J. Lenz, 157th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 06, 2013
ROCHESTER, N.H. -- The Pease Urban Search and Rescue team took part in high-angle and low-angle rescue training here June 2. The training was supported by the Rochester Fire Department and conducted on land owned by Waste Management Inc.
The fifteen-member Urban Search and Rescue Team were selected by Senior Master Sgt. William Hardekopf, 157th Civil Engineering Flight fire chief, in July 2012. Many of them are also firefighters in the local community.
The National Guard Bureau selected the team for the Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 1 USAR.
"The USAR mission is huge for team work," said Master Sgt. Michael Chisholm, who was selected as a team leader along with Master Sgt. Paul Short. "You're putting a lot of faith in trust in the people you work with."
Chisholm, a 21-year veteran firefighter at Pease, said in some of the situations trust is imperative includes running a belay line for a partner, ensuring carabineers are locked into place, and ensuring all safety equipment is properly worn.
The team's initial training took place at the North Carolina Air National Guard's Regional Training Site, New London, N.C. The class was taught by SPEC Rescue International but the Pease team was evaluated by Great Oaks.
It is also attended by members of the Air Force Reserve and active duty Air Force. Training was 10 to 12 hours a day for 15 straight days that included hands on and classroom work.
The members attended the first training class, Rescue Tech 1, in September 2012. It consisted of high angle rope rescue, confined space rescue -- someone in a manhole -- and auto extraction. The second class in March 2013, Rescue Tech II, consisted of structural collapse, breaching, breaking, burning -- cutting metal with torches -- shoring, and trench rescue.
Most of the team's equipment package includes helmets, ropes, carabineers, Stokes Basket and additional tools arrived in May. Additional specialized vehicles are expected to arrive at a later date. The team is capable of working with the Army's National Guard's Civil Support Team and the wing's Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear High Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package, or CERFP, to enhance their firefighting skillset.
Other mission include: Swift water rescue, vehicle collapse, below grade, trench rescue, and vehicle extraction. The team expects to be fully deployable upon the completion of additional certifications.
The opportunity is one that Chisholm is excited for.
"Any job especially in the military and for firefighters it's the brotherhood and the teamwork," he said. "Just to see everybody come together as a team is really rewarding, especially something like this where you want to save lives and help in the community it adds something knew to it, a new challenge for us."