Month: October 2022

MCFRS and PGFD Train on Structural Collapse Response

In 2019, the Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) identified structural collapse response as a strategic priority for Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) and Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department (PGFD). MCFRS and PGFD determined that to ensure an appropriately robust structural collapse response capability that each department needs to be able to deploy 13 trained personnel with the necessary equipment to the scene of a structural collapse incident within 40 minutes and provide cross-county mutual aid within 90 minutes.

To support this priority, MDERS sponsored personnel from MCFRS and PGFD to participate in a structural collapse specialist course in September 2022. This course trains personnel on the critical duties and activities as outlined in their position task books and is a requirement for any individual participating in structural collapse response. This training program, hosted at the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Academy, began with eight hours of computer-based training (CBT), followed by 80 hours of hands-on training. The specialized techniques learned and practiced that are necessary to perform rescues at structural collapse incidents included:

  • Breaching: Students learned techniques to break through and access obstructed areas. Participants drilled holes in a triangle formation, then chiseled away the surrounding areas, allowing the triangle to be lifted out, revealing an opening for entrance or extraction.
  • Breaking: Students learned the skills and techniques to safely break apart larger pieces of debris to facilitate manual removal without further compromising the structural integrity of a collapse site.
  • Lifting: Students learned building methodology and principles of physics to lift large pieces of cement and other debris without the help of a large crane. These techniques ensure that responders are able to remove large amounts of debris before crane operations can be implemented. Students additionally learned how to coordinate crane operations via hand signals to lift and remove debris.
  • Shoring: Students learned basic stabilization techniques to create supports that prop up surrounding debris to allow safe ingress and egress from collapsed buildings.
  • Burning: Students learned the various characteristics of available torches and the best situations to utilize a particular type to cut through rebar, steel beams, or other metal objects. Students also learned the techniques to effectively cut the metal without comprising the structural integrity in an area of a building.
  • Building Construction: Students learned about basic construction and engineering principles to familiarize themselves with a structure and also to construct apparatus needed for an effective rescue.

With the completion of this course, MCFRS and PGFD further increase their cadre of certified structural collapse specialists, ensuring each department’s ability to deploy a fully staffed response team of 13 individuals on scene of a collapse event within 40 minutes. Additionally, by jointly training across both departments, MCFRS and PGFD can deploy fully interoperable mutual aid within 90 minutes of a large collapse event.

To further bolster structural collapse response capabilities within the Maryland-National Capital Region, MDERS is coordinating with MCFRS and PGFD to host two technical search specialist courses and an additional structural collapse specialist course in 2023. These courses, alongside a robust equipment cache, ensure both departments are able to effectively deploy and respond to structural collapse incidents.

Maryland-National Capital Region Public Safety Agencies Train on Unmanned Aerial System Maintenance Operations

As the deployment of small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) programs continues to expand across the United States, public safety agencies face challenges in maintaining sUAS platforms. To support stakeholders within the Maryland-National Capital Region, MDERS sponsored pilots from Prince George’s and Montgomery County public safety agencies, as well as MDERS, to participate in the Understanding Unmanned Aerial Systems Maintenance course hosted by Tactical Drone Concepts, Inc. in September 2022. This course combined maintenance theory, best practices, and hands-on application to guide students through potential maintenance issues they may encounter.

The Understanding UAS Maintenance course engaged students in classroom discussion and hands-on instruction to develop the knowledge, skills, and abilities to implement in-house maintenance programs for UAS vehicles. Students attending the course gained a functional understanding of the component parts and software programming used to operate unmanned aircrafts, as well as soldering techniques to repair wire and electronic components on tactical and training aircraft. Upon completion of the course, Maryland-National Capital Region stakeholders enhanced their understanding of diagnosing and troubleshooting maintenance issues associated with sUAS. Students can further apply this knowledge as public safety agencies in both Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties continue to develop their internal maintenance policies and procedures.

Stakeholders from the Prince George’s County Police Department, the Montgomery County Police Department, the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, and the Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management rated the overall course highly. Participants provided the following feedback:

  • “I believe there are some best practices we can take from this class regarding maintenance. We learned greatly from our classmates about their programs and what works best for them.”
  • “A new appreciation for aircraft maintenance has been instilled in me due to being able to take the class.”
  • “The lessons learned will benefit the day-to-day maintenance of our UAS vehicles.”