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FEMA task force fights off elements in disaster training

By Sarah Dallof | Posted - Jun. 19, 2011 at 5:32 p.m.


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MAGNA -- A small group of Utahns fought off the elements Sunday while training to become FEMA rescue specialists.

In the event that a disaster strikes, the Utah Task Force One team of FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Force learned several techniques to help trapped survivors.

Often wet conditions make disaster situations more difficult, but for the task force team, Sunday's wet weather didn't stop them from training.


"It's father's day and they're out here in the soaking rain. They should be home with their families, but they're here because they know how important it is -- not only to the team -- but the state and the nation. -Bill Brass

"It's not always going to be 75 and sunny; it's going to be snowy, it's going to be freezing, it's going to be rainy and lightning," said project manager Bill Brass. "We don't have any idea, but people can't wait for rescue in those conditions."

Disasters -- from earthquakes to tsunamis to hurricanes -- leave unstable buildings with people trapped inside.

"You'll have a lot of walls that are bowed or partially collapsing," Brass said. "They're trying to teach them to build; they're trying to teach them to build a structure that will support that wall."

Crews also learned how to safely move massive pieces of concrete with limited tools, in addition to cutting and burning techniques.

While the team is based in Utah, they've been called to disasters such as the World Trade Center collapse, seven hurricanes and to rescue efforts in Haiti. And thanks to training, they'll be ready to go the next time the unexpected happens.

"It's father's day and they're out here in the soaking rain," Brass said. "They should be home with their families, but they're here because they know how important it is -- not only to the team -- but the state and the nation.

The task force will conclude an eight-day training session of 10 hour day's Monday.

Email: sdallof@ksl.com

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Sarah Dallof

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