A Soldier from the Army's 911th Technical Rescue Engineer Company and a Marine from the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force's Technical Rescue Platoon assess the condition of a void on the opposite side of a concrete barrier before breaking through to trapped victims in a simulated building collapse. The two first responders participated in a joint 72-hour technical rescue training operation at the Downey Responder Training Facility onboard Naval Support Facility Indian Head, Md., Jan. 10-12. Photo By Sgt. Frances L. Goch

Soldiers and Marines stationed in the National Capital Region dug, cut and crawled through mounds of concrete, steel and just about anything else imaginable for 72 continuous hours last week, keeping their rescue skills ready for any incident within the region.

Soldiers from the Army's 911th Technical Rescue Engineer Company and Marines from the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force conducted joint training Jan. 10-12 at the Downey Responder Training Facility on the Naval Support Facility Indian Head, Md.

"A joint exercise like this gives us confidence that in a real-world incident, our two units know the capabilities of each other and we can trust each other to do the job correctly and safely," said Staff Sgt. John Cogley, Squad Leader for the 911th TREC 2nd Platoon, First Squad. "I have been at this assignment for more than three years, and this training gives my guys hands-on experience with all of the tools they need to use to do their assigned tasks."

The DRTF is named after New York firefighter and former Marine Raymond M. Downey Sr. who died during his battalion's recovery efforts at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The facility is CBIRF's main training site.

"We have rope rescue, confined space rescue, vehicle extraction, trench rescue and structural collapse training capabilities, and the exercise scenario being used allows instruction in each of those areas," said Patrick Higgins, lead chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high yield explosive (CBRNE) instructor for CBIRF. "Working with the Soldiers of the 911th benefits our training program, because if the call to respond to an incident in the NCR comes, we will be working together."

The 911th TREC is the only unit of its kind in the Army. It is comprised of combat engineers trained in technical rescue tasks, specializing in rescue techniques for victims trapped in structurally damaged buildings.

"I can't speak highly enough about the resources CBIRF has at this facility," said 1st Lt. Charles Robitaille, 911th TREC 2nd Platoon Leader. "If we need to respond to a real world incident, this experience of working with the CBIRF Marines will be invaluable. It will make interoperability so much easier." On order, 911th TREC deploys and conducts technical rescue operations in support of military and/or federal contingencies in the NCR. The unit trains with state, local and federal agencies to include FEMA's Urban Search and Rescue Teams and the Marines of CBIRF to develop and maintain the most advanced skills in the field.

"We can tunnel through an engine block if necessary with an exothermic torch, and that works at a crazy temperature around 3,000 degrees, so it will cut through metal and concrete," said Cpl. Nathaniel James, a Technical Rescue Marine with CBIRF Initial Response Force B. "I've been with CBIRF for three years, and for me, I am getting a lot of satisfaction out of teaching the younger Marines and Soldiers."

Page last updated Fri January 20th, 2012 at 08:51