Belvedere Fire Company prepares for the next 9/11
Newport, DE – Claymont Fire Company’s Deputy Chief Eric Haley was on hand to see the GUARDIAN collapsed building simulator in action at the Belvedere Fire Station in Newport, Delaware, on the weekend of November 19-20.
The intense training sessions gave this select group of first responders an opportunity to experience what it would be like to perform a rescue operation in harsh conditions. Haley was planning to just observe, but as more and more firefighters kept talking about how true-to-life the experience was, he decided he needed to try it himself.
The day’s scenario involved the rescue of three victims from dark recesses of a collapsed building – two of whom were first responders who became trapped themselves when a floor gave way. Rescuing the victims required a full list of skills including breaking through a reinforced concrete wall and removing large quantities of debris.
Due to the confined space the debris extraction had to be done one piece at a time. The stream of rebar, broken furniture, ceiling tile, steel and wood was passed hand-to-hand out of the collapsed building simulator, alternated with a supply line of air packs, water, tools and supplies headed into the rescuers. Inside, the space was so confining that some of the first responders were forced to remove their bulky air packs to maneuver through the rubble. Mr. Quinn states that over 25,000 firefighters have gone through training on the simulator since it made its first appearance in 2006. “The one comment I hear over and over,” he said, “is about how realistic it is.”
“It’s no joke,” he continued. “There have been firefighters who discovered they were claustrophobic when they entered the GUARDIAN for the first time. Even trained search and rescue dogs have been known to freeze up inside.”