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This is the second installment of a series of articles about the creation of a state-of-the-art technical rescue training center – the Monroe County, NY, Public Safety Training Facility (PSTF) – and the events that helped make the vision a reality. Part one (June 2011) described how, despite the challenges of shrinking budgets, members of the Monroe County fire service acquired a place to train, assembled an instructional staff and staged the necessary equipment.
The first two months at the PSTF were spent in the classroom obtaining the foundation materials for the series. This consisted of the “Basic Structural Collapse Operations” course and the “Medium-Level Structural Collapse Concepts” course.
By providing the operational knowledge related to working at a structural collapse incident, the students were well prepared for the challenges they would face in their upcoming courses. These challenges would include interior and exterior shoring, breaching concrete, cutting steel, rigging and assisting in the moving of heavy materials and having to search a void space in an effort to rescue trapped victims.
Once the foundations courses were completed, it was time to start the process of putting the knowledge to use during the hands-on components. Following the New York State Collapse curriculum, the next phase was the “Rescue Technician: Basic” course. The overall objective of the “Rescue Technician: Basic” course is to improve rescuer awareness of the safety concerns at a variety of specialized rescue situations. Topics include an overview of specialized rescue; search; technical rescue management; risks and priorities; use of ropes, knots and rope systems; and establishment of landing zones for helicopter operations. This was followed by the “Medium Structural Collapse Operations (MSCO): Tools” course mentioned in part one of this series (June 2011).
Next up were the shoring courses. “Exterior Shoring” was the first of the two. This program familiarized students with shoring techniques needed to safely construct multiple types of shores. Solid-sole, split-sole and flying-raker shores were taught. They also constructed flying shores, which provided a challenge to the students in not only the creation of the shore, but emphasized the importance of teamwork.
The shoring techniques taught during both the “Interior Shoring” and “Exterior Shoring” courses consume a significant volume of lumber. Part three of this series will cover one of the ways that the team who designed and constructed the Technical Rescue building and its props addressed this issue.
“Interior Shoring” was next. Using the training tower’s multiple levels allowed many different scenarios to take place simultaneously. During this course, the students learned how to construct T-shores, Double Ts and Lace Post shores using dimensional lumber. Door and Window shores, Horizontal shores and Vertical (Dead) shores were taught with both dimensional lumber and pneumatic shores. Having both dimensional lumber and pneumatic shores available lets the participants learn multiple ways to overcome the challenges they may face in the future. These options place another “slide” in their tray of knowledge.
The skills from the previous six courses were all put to the test as they entered the “Void Search and Rescue” course. Using the traveling void search simulator, the instructors created multiple challenges for the students. Not only did they have to navigate the various voids, they were required to complete additional tasks in a scenario-based manner. This format lets the students hone their skills as if they were operating at an actual incident. They had to size-up the scene and shore the exterior to make it safe for entry, then construct various interior shores to gain access to the voids. This was another true test of the students’ ability to work as a team.