Air Guard first responders lead joint rescue strike team training

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Tamara R. Dabney
  • 103rd Airlift Wing

Connecticut Air National Guard fire protection specialists teamed up with firefighters from various departments within Connecticut Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS) Region 3 to participate in a Rescue Strike Team Training Exercise. 

The exercise will help ensure continuity in training and enables incident commanders to verify equipment capabilities across fire departments. The decision to conduct the exercise came after DEMHS developed the RED (Regional Emergency Department) Plan for Region 3, which provides guidelines to local incident commanders for the use of emergency resources from other departments when local resources are insufficient.

“We’re developing a strike team within the local area in the event that we ever have to use significant amounts of rescue equipment,” said Chief Master Sgt. Robert Cross, 103rd Airlift Wing Installation Fire Chief. “Let’s say there’s a 20-car pile up on the interstate, and you’re looking for rescue trucks. I could say that I want a strike team of rescue trucks on-site to help extricate individuals.”

Fire Departments from Bloomfield, Blue Hills, East Granby, Suffield, and Bradley International Airport convened at Mark’s Auto Parts in East Granby to participate in the Air Guard-led training. Exercise participants were faced with several complicated scenarios that involved piles of wrecked vehicles and an oil tanker from which training dummies needed to be extricated. According to Cross, the exercise provided the opportunity for members of the departments to become familiar with one another, which is imperative for the successful mitigation of a large-scale emergency.

“Working with our civilian community partners, we build those relationships, so that if we do have and incident and we’re calling for them, they know who we are and we know what their capabilities are when they come,” said Cross.

The training also gave firefighters the opportunity to practice new rescue techniques while using various types of equipment that they may not not have been accustomed to prior to the exercise. 

“Getting together and training like this is good, because it shows everyone different techniques of how extrications can be performed,” said Master Sgt. Zachary Daniel, Assistant Chief of Training for the 103rd. “The training is important to identify the different equipment caches that each department may have, identify some shortfalls that are in the region and to hone in on skills that are more advanced.”

The ultimate goal of the exercise is to advance the knowledge and skills of local emergency responders to make the communities of Region 3 safer. 

“It enhances preparedness for natural disasters or manmade emergencies,” said Daniel. “When everyone identifies the different tools that the other communities may have, it’s going to enhance mission success.”