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NEWS | April 27, 2015

Balikatan 15 Reinforces Urban Search and Rescue Techniques

By Staff Sgt. Chris Hubenthal

The Armed Forces of the Philippines trained shoulder-to-shoulder with U.S. Hawaii Army National Guard soldiers, practicing techniques to enter collapsed buildings effectively in case of a real world urban search and rescue scenario as part of exercise Balikatan, April 24.

Fifty four Filipino participants from the AFP and Palawan Bureau of Fire Protection practiced basic shoring techniques.

Shoring is the process of supporting a building, vessel, structure, or trench with props when they are in danger of collapse.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jim Evagelista, 103rd Troop Command, 230th Engineer Company logistics noncommissioned officer in charge, HIARNG, explained how the training is preparing the AFP to better respond to a natural or man-made disaster.

“Before the rescuer can enter a building they need to secure and stabilize the collapsed structure before they can enter,” Evangelista said. “What I taught them is that the first thing that you need to know as a rescuer is that you need to rescue yourself, your teammates, and then the victim. It doesn’t make sense if you’re going into a building that’s not stable.”

To prepare for a USAR situation, AFP members and fire protection rescuers constructed t-spots, double t-spots, flying rakers, and split sole rakers, to better prevent a damaged building from collapsing.

Philippine Army Sgt. Vanessa May Sumanga, 408th Palawan Community Defense Center criminologist, said she thinks the USAR training has better prepared her to respond to an incident.

“Staff Sgt. Evangelista taught me how to do basic shoring if there was ever a building collapse and how to rescue a victim,” Sumanga said. “From my basic knowledge given by Sir Evangelista, I will better be able to help rescue victims.”

Philippine Air Force Staff Sgt. Rolando Albaniel, 570th Composite Tactical Wing military police security supervisor, said that the knowledge the BK15 USAR training has provided will be utilized when the training is complete.

“What they taught us must go to action,” Albaniel said. “With this training there should be no accident for the rescuer when they enter a building. This training is beneficial if this happens in Palawan. It gives us an idea on how to perform in any case that a disaster may happen to us.”

U.S. Army Corey Ito, CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package search and extraction noncommissioned officer in charge, HIARNG, hopes the training will assist the AFP in the future.

“Hopefully they can use the training because they are hit by a lot of typhoons and other real world events,” Ito said. “The Filipinos are very receptive, open to everything, and very eager to learn.”

This year marks the 31st iteration of the exercise, which is an annual Philippines-U.S. bilateral military training exercise and humanitarian civic assistance engagement.

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