The U.S. Military District of Washington's 911th Technical Rescue Engineer Company and their civilian counterparts from all across the nation train and test each other's skills and gain experience by participating in realistic scenarios during the annual training program called Rescue Challenge, from May 5 - 8, 2014.

The 911th was tested on their problem solving techniques throughout a four-hour realistic obstacle course located in Lorton Va., which required the Soldiers to use team work and quick thinking in response to various simulated dangerous scenarios.

"This obstacle course tests their technical rescue skills and also puts them in scenarios that require them to think," said Mark F. Lucas, Fairfax County Fire Department's master technician instructor and course evaluator."This course was to show them that in a man-made or natural disaster the clock is ticking and there should be a Plan B, C, D and so on."

The Soldiers were required to navigate through a mine field on ropes, low-crawl through a swamp pit, cross a toxic stream with minimal tools forcing them to use their decision making expertise during a time sensitive situation.

"Listen to the non-leaders too because they may have a better idea in a crisis," said Lucas. "Disagree or not, we need to work toward a goal as technical rescue teams."

The Soldiers of the 911th were also given the opportunity to test multiple technical rescue teams in Virginia on their breaching and confined space rescue skills at their home base of Fort Belvoir, Va.

"This is not a competition," said Sgt. Matthew A. Calhoun, 911th Technical Rescue Engineer Company and course evaluator. "These lanes and scenarios are designed to test the teams in a life-like stressful environment where they need to react quickly. At the end of the event, we let them know what their strengths and weakness were."

The teams were required to climb down a dark and confined passage and travel through underground tunnels to rescue victims that were trapped. The victims were course evaluators that were assessing the rescuers on how well they interacted with the victims and kept them calm.

"Rescue Challenge is a great learning experience and gives all of us the opportunity to cross train with these local rescue teams," said Calhoun. "We're able to see different types of equipment, rescue maneuvers and most importantly, we build relationships with rescue teams around the area. If there were an incident, we'll be familiar with the local rescue teams and all work together as a whole to do our job."

Page last updated Mon May 12th, 2014 at 08:53