FCTRT Members Complete Structural Collapse Training

Living in the shadow of the New Madrid fault often provides us with the realization that when enough force is applied; even buildings can come crashing down.  The volatile weather that has struck our region in recent months also reminds us that buildings and homes can suffer catastrophic failures by other acts of nature as well.  Citizens in west Tennessee are now more than ever acutely aware of the dangers they face from structural collapses as the result of natural disasters.  But what happens after the dust has settled?  How are individuals unfortunate enough to have been caught in a collapse located and recovered?  How are partially collapsed homes and other buildings made safe enough for rescue efforts to be conducted?

            Nine members of the Fayette County Technical Rescue Team recently learned the answers to these and other questions at a Structural Collapse Rescue course held at the Tennessee Fire and Codes Academy, in Bell Buckle, Tennessee.  “Courses like this one are what provide our members with the core skills they need to plan and execute a successful mitigation after a disaster” said Captain Christopher Bauer, the FCTRT’s Training Officer.  “Not only does it lay the ground work from an academic perspective, but it also allows them to go out and perform the skills they have learned in practical applications in the field.”

            The course, which was presented and taught by the Tennessee Association of Rescue Squads (TARS), was held over three days and provided instruction in a number of areas pertaining to structural collapses.  The students learned about everything from building construction and collapse patterns, to national standards for searches and victim recovery.  A significant portion  of the course was conducted on the drill field, and put to the test the lessons learned in the classroom on methods of safely securing collapses in order to perform an effective rescue.  Participants were required to utilize timber to build a number of different types of shores in many assorted conditions and they were also required to deploy pneumatic air shores in the same capacity.  These shores are what stabilize the collapsed structure and allow rescue workers to perform their assigned tasks without increasing the risk to themselves and others. 

            “Structural Collapse courses are often difficult to schedule in that the number of class spots are usually pretty limited,” said Commander Kevin Snider.  “We were extremely fortunate to be able to get as many of our Team members in as we did, and because of that, a good portion of our Team got to train in a discipline that has the potential to greatly impact our community in the likelihood of a disaster. TARS courses are always very detailed and the State Fire and Codes Academy provides a top notch training facility that is almost impossible to replicate in our own internal training.”  

The Fayette County Technical Rescue Team provides specialized emergency response to fire departments and agencies requesting additional assistance without charge and is comprised of 31 volunteers from various emergency response agencies and departments.  The Team is a Tennessee non-profit corporation registered under Section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code for tax exempt status.  It is an Active Unit Member of the Tennessee Association of Rescue Squads and affiliated with the Rossville Fire Department, Search Dogs South, and the Kelsey Canine Medical Center.  The Team also holds memberships with the National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR), the International Association for Dive Rescue Specialists (IADRS), and the International Rescue and Emergency Care Association (IRECA).  For more information about the FCTRT, please visit their website at www.technicalrescueteam.com