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Marines from I Marine Expeditionary Force joined firefighters from the San Francisco area to learn about urban search and rescue techniques Oct. 5, 2016 at building 600 on Treasure Island. The service members learned how to cut through concrete and metal bars, reinforce structures, and move 3-5,000 pounds of concrete with wooden sticks. 161005-M-KA224-212

Photo by Lance Cpl. Julien Rodarte

Marines, Sailors practice firefighting search and rescue skills

6 Oct 2016 | Sgt. Cuong Le Defense Media Activity

“So today the Marines and the sailors and members of the armed service will be working in conjunction with the San Francisco Fire Department to urban search and rescue skill,” said Jonathan Baxter, a lieutenant with the San Francisco Fire Department. “The urban search and rescue skill includes a number of different parameters but specifically how to remove large portions of rubble in order to get to potential victims.”

The first group of Marines started at the concrete and metal excavation site. The Marines learned how to use reciprocating saws, rebar cutters, rotary hammers, core saws, jackhammers, hydraulic circular saws, hydraulic chain saws, gas powered circular saws, and hydraulic power units. The Marines learned how to effectively use these tools to cut precision holes through concrete slabs during an urban search and rescue mission to save people who may be stuck underneath fallen concrete.

“We learned about how to use different types of power tools to quickly and safely reach someone on the other side of a concrete slab,” said PFC Travis McKinney, a rifleman with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. “I am not the best guy when it comes to using tools, but with this training I am confident that I would be able to use these new skills to save someone’s life.”

The second group of Marines started at the Emergency Building Shoring station where they learned what type of wood to use, what length to cut the wood to, and how to put the wood together. The Marines would measure the openings that rescue teams would enter and build wooden structures to shore up the building’s strength before sending in teams. 

“You never know what you might run into it could be a house on fire, it doesn’t have to even be Marine Corps related,” said PFC Nicholas Bennett an amphibious assault vehicle crewman with 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, I Marine Division. “If you have a couple pieces of lumber, it is surprising what you can do. It could save somebody’s life one day.”

The third group started at the heavy lifting station, where the Marines and Sailors learned how to use metal rods and wooden blocks to move 3-5,000 pound of concrete. The service members would set up the wooden blocks to support the weight of the concrete slabs before using metal bars to move them.

“Learning to work together was the most important part of this training,” said Bennett. “With the skills that we learned today, I am pretty confident I could use them to help out during a disaster relief mission.”


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