Multinational task force practices urban search, rescue at Kalaeloa

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman John Linzmeier
  • 154th Wing Public Affairs

Emergency response service members from four nations gathered in Oahu July 15-19 to participate in a Hawaii National Guard hosted exercise, focused on urban search and rescue. 

Teams from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, The Philippines, and the Oregon National Guard joined forces with the Hawaii’s CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package, a Joint Mission comprised of both Army and Air National Guard Soldiers and Airmen. All together, the cohesive unit formed a Combined Multinational Task Force, called CTF 501. 

The training activities were held in effort to maintain urban search and rescue standards and revolved around a 24-hour Basic Rope Rescue course, resulting in certifications and an improvement in interoperability. 

Civilian responders also played a major role in supporting CTF 501, and regularly participate in disaster response events with the guardsmen, who specialize in scenarios which entail chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive threats, along with an array of natural disasters which may occur in the region. 

Hawaii Army NG Capt. Valentine Roberts, CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) operations officer, said the four nations were able to overcome obstacles throughout the week, such as language barriers, and further their combined life-saving capabilities. 

Much of the initial training was held in a conference-styled setting, where experts could review and discuss emergency response procedures and development of best practices. It also served as a platform to introduce a Multinational Coordination Center, for responses involving humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. 

The discussion-based training led up to a disaster scenario, held at Kalaeloa US&R site, which utilized the efforts of all military participants. Instructors focused on life-saving topics, such as pre-incident planning, program safety, rescue philosophy, safety standards and more. 

At the training grounds, CTF 501 responders identified possible ‘victim’ locations and recovered causalities from a collapsed structure. Participants exercised rappel techniques to reach confined spaces and used an array of tools to break victims free of concrete confinements and metal obstacles. Simulated personnel with injuries were provided first aid and egressed through litters and a system of ropes. 

Each rescue action was carefully evaluated and recorded by a team of instructors, who provided the international operators with feedback, highlighting their strengths and areas of improvement. 

Roberts said Service members of all uniforms walked away from the CTF 501 training with more confidence in their rescue abilities and are better prepared to integrate together in the event of potential emergencies.