185th ARW Fire Protection Services Train for Disaster Response

  • Published
  • By 1Lt Jeremy McClure
  • 185 ARW Wing PA
Members of the Iowa Air National Guard's 185th Air Refueling Wing Fire Protect Services participated in a mass casualty disaster drill in during Nov. 3 and 4 in Columbia, Mo.

The exercise, named Vigilant Guard, was in cooperation with local, state, and federal emergency response agencies that were tasked with rescuing victims of an earthquake.

Working with their civilian counterparts, the airmen put their advanced rescue skills to test in a training area that had piles of rubble and a four story building designed to simulate a collapsed structure.

"It was really cool in there," said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Chad E. Wendell. "It's dark and there are over turned cars on the second level.

The airmen helped rescue victims trapped under debris and at the bottom of a four story elevator shaft. One victim was evacuated using a high angle rescue where the victim was lowered from the forth story using ropes.

"This was a great opportunity for us to train with civilian responders," said Chief Master Sgt. Michael J. Albrecht.

The airmen's mission was to support the responders and assist in locating, treating, and evacuating victims.

"We act as a force multiplier for local responders," explained Albrecht. "All summer long we have assisted local agencies in responding to emergencies and grass fires."

The 185th Fire Protection Services are trained to the same standards as civilian fire fighters. All the airmen of the unit will be trained in advanced rescue techniques.

"It was really great working with them," said Lt. Will A. Stafford, Columbia Fire Department. "They jumped right in and started helping and knew what they were doing."

This type of training is in line with current mission and tasks of the Guard, which focuses on rescue efforts both home and abroad.

"We have the capability to respond locally or to any corner of the state in a matter of hours," said Albrecht.

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