Recently the 463rd Engineer Detachment Firefighters conducted a three day exercise to continue to refine their individual Soldier tasks and continue work on their collective level unit proficiency. The 463rd is on a two-year rotation to immediately mobilize and deploy to provide Urban Search and Technical Rescue support to the US Army Reserve's Chemical Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Consequence Management Response Force.
The 463rd is headquartered in Houston, Texas, and is part of the 980th Engineer Battalion. From Feb. 18-21, the 32 Soldier unit conducted extensive training at the Houston Fire Department Training Academy near Houston's Hobby Airport.
During the four days, the unit, in conjunction with the Houston Fire Department, the US Army Maneuver Support Center and School, US Army North, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, practiced their skills in using literally hundreds of technical tools and highly technical skills to simulate rescuing people from confined spaces. The Soldiers did so while simulating being in a chemically contaminated environment which required them to wear chemical protective suits and masks, in addition to their normal fire-fighter gear and protective helmets.
During the final exercise scenario the Soldiers were practicing supporting FEMA and they were required to first conduct a chemical reconnaissance of a building that was a suspected drug lab. The building had also partially collapsed after an earthquake.
After the reconnaissance, the Soldiers used sensors to locate two bodies inside. First however, the Firefighters had to breech a large cement block that had fallen over the buildings only safe entrance. The Soldiers drilled a small hole in the cement, placed a camera inside to see what was on the other side and after determining that the other side was safe, they then cut a hole in the cement block to safely get Soldiers inside the building. Soldiers had to do all this in three separate shifts because they were only allowed to spend forty-five minutes at a time in the chemically contaminated "hot" zone.
Once inside, the Soldiers were required to properly search the building and vent the building so that there was fresh air inside. Finally, the Soldiers had to shore up the buildings structure so that they could find the two trapped individuals and extricate them to safety.
First Lt. Yazim Feliciano, detachment commander, said that it was the most realistic exercise that the unit has yet to conducted at the collective level, and that her Soldiers look forward to doing more difficult training during their CCMRF assignment.

Page last updated Tue May 11th, 2010 at 10:01