Red Cloud firefighters sharpen disaster response skills
Nam, Young Keun, USAG-RC firefighter (left), Jeon Young Ho, USAG-RC fire crew chief (center), and You Sung Hoon, USAG-RC fire fighter (right), put out vehicle fires as a part of National Disaster Emergency Rescue Training. The training took place at Daejin University, May 11, to improve response times and capabilities for national disasters.

POCHEON, South Korea -- USAG-Red Cloud firefighters participated in the National Disaster Emergency Rescue Training, which took place at Daejin University, May 11, in close cooperation with a large number of Gyeong-gi Province and Republic of Korea Army firefighters.

The training will improve firefighter's skills in dealing with natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and disasters happening during festivals and community events.

In all, 428 personnel and 67 vehicles from fire houses, police departments, and Republic of Korea Army installations took part in the training. Aside from professional firefighters, 417 people from governmental agencies or voluntary organizations also took part.

Red Cloud firefighters dispatched two chemical fire engines along with seven firefighters, and provided water support to extinguish vehicle fires as a part of the training.

"It is the biggest training I have seen since I became fire chief six years ago," said John Cook, USAG-RC fire chief.

Within an hour, participants witnessed a variety of practical exercises. Gyeonggi Province Emergency Rescue Control Center took command in one exercise where terrorists broke into the main building of the university, set off simulated explosives, and pretends to take students hostage. Their response was to request combined operations involving the Army and police to arrest the terrorists while Emergency Rescue saved the students.

Although they successfully put down the terrorists, the situation became increasingly serious. Explosive chemical bombs went off, prompting a number of fire teams to respond to the situation.

Red Cloud firefighters also played a significant role in the exercise. When they received a request for support from the control center, they responded with two fire engines, putting out car fires with water cannons.

Engines used during the training were high-powered chemical fire engines, which were able to apply 420 liters of water per minute. They are used to extinguish large scale fires, aircraft fires, and oil-based fires.

"USAG-RC firefighters often fight fires off post," said Hyesung Sohn, national emergency management agent. "While they normally respond to fires on post, they join firefighting efforts in the community as well, earning a favorable reputation for themselves from the townspeople."

Sunghak Pak, USAG-RC assistant fire chief, said they do their job off the installation and participate in joint training in accordance with a mutual aid contract, which is renewed every two or three years.

"If an accident happens on post, we can get support from local fire houses. On the other hand, when they call for our support against big fires, we provide personnel and equipment," Pak said. "The contracted area includes Uijeongbu, Dongducheon, Yangju and Pocheon."

Cook pointed out drills in organized circumstances could not simulate real life circumstances.

"In reality, anything unexpected can happen during emergencies," Cook said. "Sometimes there are obstacles, which interrupt planned performance. We should keep in mind the most important thing is to prevent and be prepared."

Page last updated Thu May 28th, 2009 at 01:01