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Mississippi First Responders Train Their Skills

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 07 Oct 2011 03:03pm | comments
mine collapse rescue.

Emergency first responders from across Mississippi are involved in a first of it's kind training. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the first responders are training to be ready for natural or man-made disasters.

At the fire academy in Pearl, Oxford fire fighter Cary Sallis straps into a harness in preparation for mock mine collapse rescue that was one of four sections of training for Mississippi first responders.

"I am searching for the victims and rescuing them. And we have to shore up the walls of the mine and make sure everything is secure safe. And then get the victims packaged and get them back out," Sallis said.

In the underground tunnels, trainer Chad Ponder says the teams are given limited information about the scenario and have to quickly design a plan to rescue the two trapped victims.

"There is one over there that is unburied, and there is one behind me that is under about 1-thousand pounds of rubble. and they are going to have to find a way to get the rubble off him to get him out," Ponder said.

The parking lot of the fire academy is temporarily turned into an active rescue site, with rows of tents and mobile security trucks rolled out and set up.

This is the first time that the Department of homeland security has pulled first responders from each of the state's three Search and Rescue Task Forces.

The tasks forces are intended to concentrate skills and experience in the best equipped departments around the state.

This round of exercises included over land search, trench rescue and urban rescue training in addition to the underground scenario.

Mississippi director of Homeland Security Jay Ledbetter says putting the first responders to the test is crucial to safety in the state.

"To make sure our skills are honed. To make sure our equipment works. To make sure people know what to do and where to be. And with this new equipment, this is even more important. We are making sure we are ready for any type natural disaster that may come around," Ledbetter said.

The money for the training comes from the federal government, but Ledbetter worries that more budget cuts could impair their ability to hold training classes.

Still, The department is planning to bring in law enforcement agencies for similar training sometime early next year.



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