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Marines and sailors with Chemical Biological Incident Response Force train alongside the Fire Department of New York for a field training exercise at the F.D.N.Y. training academy in Randall’s Island, N.Y. June 20, 2016. CBIRF is an active duty Marine Corps unit that, when directed, forward-deploys and/or responds with minimal warning to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive threat or event in order to assist local, state, or federal agencies and the geographic combatant commanders in the conduct of CBRNE response or consequence management operations, providing capabilities for command and control; agent detection and identification; search, rescue, and decontamination; and emergency medical care for contaminated personnel.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia

CBIRF and FDNY train side-by-side, share search and rescue tactics

28 Jun 2016 | Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

Chemical Biological Incident Response Force and the Fire Department of  New York, FDNY, conducted three days of training at the FDNY Fire Academy located in Randall’s Island, New York, with a final simulation drill at Grand Central Station in New York City, N.Y. The training took place June 20-23, 2016.

The training is part of a long-standing CBIRF and FDNY relationship, established around 1998 when the unit sought to add search and rescue to the chemical/ biological response forces’ capabilities.

The training provided an opportunity for the men and women that protect one of the biggest and busiest cities in the world, to share their experience and tactics with CBIRF.

“I love this, this is great,” said Lt. Vincent Pickford, lieutenant for Squad 288 in Queens. “If we can maybe help (CBIRF) out a little bit to do the job that they have to do, it’s an honor.” 

FDNY has certain similarities to CBIRF in that both are trained to respond to a catastrophe of any sort including hazardous incidents.

The similarities do not end there.

“(The fire department) is a lot like the Marine Corps. The guys are good, (there is) a lot of team work, a lot of camaraderie. It’s very similar,” said Capt. Robert Morris, retired captain of Rescue 1 in charge of Manhattan.

The fire fighters love to come and work alongside Marines and Sailors, said Morris expressing fire fighters’ willingness to train with CBIRF. When the time comes for CBIRF to train with us, there are many firefighters competing to get here – especially firefighters who served as Marines.

Training was divided into three areas specific to search and rescue capabilities. The first covered various techniques of rope usage. CBIRF Marines were offered scenarios in which ropes can be used for ascending and descending to and from difficult areas of reach to rescue victims.

The second area was vehicle extrication with hydraulic, battery powered and hand tools and proper techniques designed to rip through mangled car parts and get to a victim as quickly as possible.
The third area was breaching techniques with fire torches, saws and chainsaws, and hydraulic drills to get through any barriers, as well as the proper techniques to guarantee the safety of the rescuers as well as the victims.
CBIRF Navy Hospital Corpsmen received training with the paramedics of FDNY to learn different techniques on how to assess the patients and attend as well as decontamination and transportation to safety.

Working with FDNY enhances CBIRFs proficiency in skills learned during the three-week CBIRF Basic Operations Course, or CBOC. Every Sailor and Marine at CBIRF, regardless of their occupational specialty, is required to attend CBOC.

“I think this is a great experience for the Marines and Sailors to work side by side with guys who have an incredible amount of experience, in one of the biggest and greatest cities in the world, where they see things almost daily that probably a lot of places don’t see in a year,” said Capt. Benjamin Royal, commander for Initial Response Force Alpha.

Royal added although CBIRF and FDNY have different missions both care about doing good in the world.

The training concluded with a staged operation that took place at Grand Central Terminal Station, a center point for trains and subways to get to Manhattan, not only for the five boroughs but the inner part of New York as well.

The scenario included a simulated explosion in the two train tracks of Grand Central contaminating the area and leaving casualties that were exposed to the contaminants. The mission required the entire IRF to mobilize as quickly as possible, prepare a game plan within minutes, and start sending Marines and Sailors quickly into the contaminated “Hot Zone.”

CBIRF worked through many obstacles and problems presented throughout the operation, including extracting victims out of the hot zone followed by the proper medical care.

It was a unique experience but the Marines were able to develop and execute the plan and evacuation to follow on transportation.

“The problem that we were presented with was extremely challenging, one of the tougher problems that we would ever have to face,” said Royal. “Every Marine and Sailor was pleased and thankful to work side by side with FDNY and able to get hands-on experience.”

The Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, or CBIRF, is headquartered aboard Naval Support Facility Indian Head, Md. CBIRF is composed of two Initial Response Force Teams, or IRFs, each composed of roughly 130 Marines and Sailors that can be mobilized within a period of 24 hours when needed anywhere on the globe.

Each IRF is composed of Marines and Sailors from myriad different occupational fields split into search and rescue, explosive ordinance disposal, decontamination, extraction and medical teams that are trained to respond to, but not limited to, any kind of chemical or biological threat. This makes CBIRF unique not only to the Marine Corps but through the entire Department of Defense.

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