NEWS | May 31, 2019

Urban Search and Rescue Operations Training in Okinawa

By Lance Cpl. Brennan Beauton Marine Corps Installations Pacific

CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan -- Marine Corps Installations Pacific Fire and Emergency Services exercised urban search and rescue interoperability training alongside Kadena Fire Department Rescue technicians and Navy Corpsman from the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa for a simulated structural collapse May 29-30, 2019 on Camp Hansen, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler.

The training was designed to simulate scenarios of possible terrorism, or structural collapse due to environmental extremes presented on Okinawa.

“Training always prepares for us to respond to real-world emergencies,” said Staff Sgt. Kyle Ledford, a firefighter for Kadena Fire Emergency and Services. “They can happen anytime, anywhere, so we have to train to practice our skills, hone them, and make them better.”

Crews arrived on scene to a possible terroristic event. The simulation systematically unraveled as a vehicle had careened over victims and crashed into a two-story building exploding into a fireball perpetuating a partial building collapse.

“This training consists of an emergency response to a situation for example; if an earthquake, typhoon or even a terrorist attack hits and a building on an installation collapses, we will be prepared to support ourselves,” said Jerry Bowling, assistant chief of operations MCIPAC Fire and Emergency Services Japan.

The firefighters worked to extinguish a fire, triage surface victims and called for the mobilization of the MCIPAC Urban Search and Rescue team while Corpsman addressed the immediate needs of multiple critical patients for a Mass Casualty Incident. Kadena Fire Department’s rescue technicians arrived on scene to support a labor intensive rescue effort of trapped persons.

“I would say the hardest part of this training is cutting into the concrete structure,” said Ledford. “It’s very time consuming and a lot of manual labor to use the equipment.”

After rescue technicians worked together to stabilize crumbling structures from further collapse, they breached six inch thick concrete walls, braced ceilings, and navigated an extremely confined space to conduct lifesaving rescue operations.

According to Bowling, today’s training was an avenue to test the three agencies ability communicate and operate successfully.

“To put the pieces in place and to rescue somebody, communication is vital,” said Bowling. “This will definitely help in real-world situations. The more hands-on training we have the better we are able to communicate with each other and rescue whomever maybe in trouble.”