Urban Search and Rescue Team prepares for building collapse scenarios and other victim rescues

Posted at 6:37 PM, Aug 29, 2016

A group of elite firefighters training for Urban Search and Rescue teams met in Northeast Ohio over the weekend to train for victim rescue scenarios like the Westlake building collapse in 2014. 

The Ohio Region 2 Urban Search and Rescue Team was part of the group that responded to the scene of a truck that slammed into the Dover Gardens Tavern on Detroit Road two years ago this October. 

Twelve people were injured, several people were pinned and the stolen pickup crashed through two support walls, leaving the building very unstable. 

“We did a lot of structural stabilization to make it safe to go in and an investigate, get the car out and keep the building from falling over,” explained Team Leader Brian Harting. 

Braving both hazardous and delicate conditions to rescue victims trapped in a range of different incidents, Harting told that the team practices with a variety of scenarios. 

“We do rope rescue, building collapse. trench rescue, confined space, water rescue and rescues on structural towers,” he said. 

Jackson Helson, a Louisville, Kentucky-based firefighter from the Jefferson Co. Special Operations Command, also took part in the training, which included firefighters and an instructor from all over the country. 

“We have to be able to think up some of the craziest things that you could see out there,” Jackson said. “But at the end of the day, we’re here for the patient.”

The rope work includes at least $15,000 worth of rigging to safely hoist the rescuers up to their victims. 

Nelson said the idea is to train at the most difficult level so that less complicated rescues feel comfortable. 

Harting and Nelson agreed that ultimately trust is the biggest part these teams performing their jobs safely. 

“Trust in your equipment, trust in your training, trust in the other individuals in the team, that’s huge,” Harting said.