The Reporter (Vacaville)
TASK FORCE TRAINS TO FIND, SAVE LIVES
Members of the Solano County Urban Search and Rescue Task Force conducted a training exercise Monday in Suisun City to sharpen the very same techniques employed by crews in Florida as they continue to search for victims trapped inside the collapsed condominium building in Miami.
The timing of the training is purely coincidental according to Suisun City fire Chief Justin Vincent, who said that it was in the planning stages for several months.
The task force has been active for several years and is staffed by first responders countywide.
Monday’s exercise focused on sharpening their skills on making a structure safe for crews to work to save victims trapped in the event of a major earthquake or building collapse.
“We are all coming together to practice our skills when it comes to building collapse and shoring,” Vincent said Monday as he stood outside a vacant apartment complex that the city is preparing to demolish and was being used for the training. “It is extremely important that when we do have any type of building collapse situation that we are able to properly to shore up the building to get into the victims.”
Vincent described the very methodical way crews work during an incident like the condo collapse, saying that they can’t just go into the situation and start moving large objects because it could disturb others. That’s why they need to shore up things like walls or other fallen debris to make it safe.
“It’s a very slow process because you can end up making it worse,” he said.
Working in teams, the first responders ran through several scenarios, including holding up the sides of the building and building internal structures to allow them to tunnel into the building rescue a trapped victim. Using one of the apartments, the crews began from the front door working through drills as they moved deeper into the
“We had to first shore up the front door and move methodically into the apartment,” Vacaville Fire Department Engineer/Paramedic Clarke Guglielmoni said. The crew was building a bracing structure called a four-laced post shore that creates a safe area for rescue crews tunneling through debris while working inside a collapsed structure searching for victims
In a small room in the same apartment, the second group of Vacaville firefighters including Captain Drew Kostal and Firefighter Kevin Dwyer were on their hands and knees working in a confined space simulating the void space created by fallen debris, taking measurements and determining how best to shore up the structure.
“Here in Suisun, we obviously have the Suisun Fault that runs through very nearby and we are also next water, so we do have the concern of liquefaction in case of an earthquake or anything else,” Vincent said. “These hazards do happen. Sometimes they are manmade, with a semi-truck running into a building, an unintended explosion of a gas line but other times it could be mother nature.”
He stressed that crews need to be prepared at all times.