News: Frozen dangers demand sharpened skillset
Story by Spc. True Thao
VALDEZ, Alaska - The Valdez Fire Department participated in Alaska Shield 14 by conducting a glacier rescue scenario here March 30, 2014. Alaska Shield 14 is an exercise that involves federal, state, local and military designed to test response and coordination efforts during a disaster and is modeled after the 1964 earthquake.
The exercise began when citizens were trapped in a glacier crevasse early morning. The fire department worked closely with other agencies and the military, to perform a slow and steady glacier rescue scenario to ensure their readiness for future catastrophic events. The local agencies were able to complete the mission using all the resources available.
"We used multi-agencies to accomplish the mission," said Mike Weber, captain of the Valdez Fire Department. "It is very seldom that one agency has all the necessary resources to perform a rescue."
Being part of Alaska Shield 14 allows the Valdez Fire Dept. to reach out to other local and federal agencies in assisting with the rescue efforts. One local agency they worked hand in hand with was the Alaskan State Troopers. Working with the troopers allowed the fire department to have access to a helicopter and other resources that are usually unavailable to them.
"We work really well with the state troopers to coordinate rescue efforts," said Weber. "We coordinate most of our rescues with them."
Part of the Valdez Fire Department's purpose is to provide emergency medical services and rescue as defined by professional standards. Participating in Alaska Shield 14 allowed the local agencies scenario-based training that can help reduce any risk during an emergency rescue. Having more rescue members can also minimize the risk.
"We need as many people as we can get to complete the mission," said Chris Moulton, a firefighter with the Valdez Fire Department. "Working with other agencies is great."
With Alaska Shield 14 continuing through March 31 for the city of Valdez, the local agencies will continue to play their role in the exercise working with federal, state, local and military agencies to help local citizens prepare for catastrophic events similar to the one that occurred 50 years ago.