Rescue teams converge on Dayton for specialized training

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Rescue teams from around the country were in town Thursday, practicing some heavy lifting.

Bi-annually, Ohio Task Force One hosts Heavy Equipment Rigging Specialist (HERS) training at its Dayton training facility. The program, co-sponsored by FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security, teaches disaster response teams how to operate cranes, excavators and other heavy equipment necessary for rescue efforts during building collapses.

“There’s a lot of math involved, there’s a lot of familiarization with cranes and excavators and other heavy equipment, a lot of interaction with operating engineers and the people that run that equipment and learning how to speak their language,” said Rescue Team Manager Michael Muhl, Ohio Task Force One.

The program started when federal agencies saw a need for the skills after the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York.

Muhl said, “When Ohio responded to the World Trade Center collapse in 2001 we realized quickly that us, as well as every other federal team in the system, was ill-equipped on how to deal with a disaster of that magnitude that required the use of cranes and heavy equipment.”

Some teams attended the 32 hour training from as far away as Washington state, Virginia or Arizona.

Two groups from Florida in Dayton for the week said they were eager to practice with other elite rescue teams.

Florida Task Force Two rescue squad officer Carlos Pumariega said the skills learned at the training will be critical when lives are on the line.

“That planning and coordination doesn’t happen when we arrive on site,” Pumariega said. “It happens the moment we receive our mission order and activation orders. That’s when our HERS, our heavy riggers, start to coordinate and plan the event — what we’re going to do and start affecting rescues as soon as possible.”

Ohio Task Force One has at least 70 members who are HERS certified.

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