Search and rescue team wraps up training

By Lindsey Connell - bio | e-mail

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  Sawing thru solid concrete. It's not an easy job but somebody has to do it. In this case, members of the West Central Task Force 4-A are getting it done.

These firefighters from Georgia and East Alabama departments are learning how to make the riskiest of rescues.

"Say we had an earthquake or tornado and we had a multistory building that collapsed then we would have to go into the collapsed zone and be able to stabilize and get in that structure and get inside to get victims out," said Captain Paula Carter with Columbus Fire and EMS.

In this building collapse training, members now know how to lift, move and tear thru concrete.

"In one section, we're actually using airbags to lift smaller pieces of concrete, learning how to crib pieces up to make sure we do it safely and so we can have some precision to be able to lift," said Riley Land, Muscogee County EMA Director.

"You've got concrete breaching and breaking which deals with saws, breakers and jackhammers to go through concrete. Behind me, there's a 60 ton hydraulic crane dealing with getting some of that concrete up and moving it out of the way," said Eric DePoto with Rescue Training Associates.

With nearly 400 hours of search and rescue training under their belts, these firefighters make the most of seemingly impossible missions.

"In the event of something major, they'll learn the skills to get them through to operate safely for themselves and to minimize injury to the victims and hopefully save lives," added Land.

The team is funded by a $1.3 million grant from the Georgia EMA.

Their training will wrap up Thursday.

They should have their equipment in a few months and expect to be fully operational by summer.