Fort Bend County Technical Rescue Team practices trench rescue techniques in City of Richmond

11 08 2011

As reported by Don Munsch and reported in the Fort Bend Herald on Wednesday, August 10, 2011, area firefighters who make up a County-wide Technical Rescue Team have been in training this week.  Top-notch instructors from Texas A&M have been leading the students with instruction on trench rescues.  Other training sessions will be taking place throughout 2011. 

The Fort Bend County Technical Rescue Team is a multi-jurisdictional effort to build an urban search and rescue capability that can be deployed in the Houston region if the need should arise.  The cost of the needed equipment and training is being paid for by federal homeland security funds which have been allocated to Fort Bend County. 

In addition to the Technical Rescue Team, homeland security funds have also funded the formation of two regional hazardous materials response teams and a regional mass casualty response team.  All these teams are based here in Fort Bend County providing excellent service the citizens of Fort Bend County and support assistance to the entire region.  Without the formation of all of these teams, response to certain types of disasters would not be as effective or as efficient. 

Related to the training being held this week, as reported by Munsch:

The victim was under some dirt at the bottom of the 8 1/2-foot trench at George Park in Richmond. Upon closer examination, the victim was missing part of his arm.

Emergency responders said the victim was breathing but not conscious. He was a worker tending to duties inside a trench, according to the public information officer at the scene.

Using various equipment, firefighters from Richmond and Rosenberg, Missouri City and Stafford rescued the victim Monday afternoon in about an hour and 20 minutes. Fire department training teams rescued the victim, a mannequin, in 100-degree temperatures.

“It’s a multi-agency task force that we have with the county and it’s part of the technical rescue training we have,” said Richmond Fire Department Lt. Chris McAnally, explaining the trench rescue training.

Firefighters train together about twice a year, he said.  Trainings sessions include structural collapse, trench rescue, confined space and rope rescue.

“We’ve got a simulated trench collapse here with a mannequin on the bottom simulating a victim,” he said.  McAnally said trench hole collapses are common with utility, electrical, underground and pipeline work.

“We had a trench collapse in Richmond in 2000 in the Office Depot parking lot,” he said. “There have been a few other ones since then, but that was a major one. It was an underground utility trench they were digging.”  Rescuers must simultaneously perform safety measures while maintaining their own safety.

“It’s a methodical process of shoring up to maintain safety to prevent further collapses,” McAnally said.

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