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    New York Air National Guard wings hold joint search and rescue training at Hudson Valley Training Site

    New York Air National Guard conducts Joint Search and Rescue Training

    Photo By Chief Master Sgt. Catharine Spence | New York Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Adam Myers, the noncommissioned officer in...... read more read more



    Story by Tech. Sgt. Catharine Spence 

    New York National Guard

    CAMP SMITH TRAINING SITE, N.Y. - Firefighters from three New York Air National Guard wings pooled their talents and equipment for three days of joint training here Oct. 20-22.

    Airmen from the 106th Rescue Wing based in Westhampton Beach, the 105th Airlift Wing from Newburgh, and the 109th Airlift Wing, located in Scotia, conducted search and rescue training together at the New York National Guard’s training site near Peekskill, New York.

    “The (team) members were able to share their valuable skill-sets with each other, and worked together as an integrated team, which made this training opportunity reach far beyond ordinary expectations,” said Lt. Col. Robert Donaldson, 109th Civil Engineer Squadron commander.

    The 109th Airlift Wing Fire Department’s urban search and rescue (USAR) team, the lead USAR within the New York, organized the training.

    “This exercise was a proof of concept for our USAR mission set,” Donaldson said. “The collaboration efforts among the 109th, 106th and 105th AW USAR teams helped streamline our existing convoy capabilities and also helped refine our high angle rescue tactics, techniques and procedures.”

    At Camp Smith, the Airmen completed high angle rescue training, as well as breaching and breaking training.

    High angle is defined as a very steep environment, such as a building or a cliff face, in which a person is primarily supported by a rope system.

    “Breaching and breaking is like if a building were to collapse, we would cut through the concrete using different methods,” explained Master Sgt. Brian Kissinger, the 109th Fire Department assistant chief of operations.

    Along with the rescue training, three Airmen from the 109th Vehicle Maintenance Flight who convoyed down with the firefighters, trained the 106th on skid steer operation. The skid steers are part of the debris clearance package the 109th AW obtained earlier in the year.

    “A lot of my guys haven’t had training on the debris clearance kits that all the units have,” said Senior Master Sgt. James Nizza, 106th Fire Department chief. “(The 109th) brought their (skid steer) and now we’re getting all of my guys certified on it.”

    Camp Smith proved to be the ideal location for the units to come together as it is the central location between Scotia near Albany and Westhampton Beach on Long Island.

    Newburgh, where the 105th Airlift Wing flies C-17s from Stewart Air National Guard Base, is just up the Hudson River from Camp Smith.

    The facility also has the environment the teams needed to complete the training they wouldn’t be able to get at home station, including the cliff they used for the high angle training.

    “We don’t get the ability to do this type of training at home, and (because of that) the skills are diminishing; if we don’t continue to practice it, we’re going to lose the skill-set,” Nizza said.

    He said this joint exercise gave them the opportunity to continue their training to keep the domestic operations mission going, “and it also builds the partnership with the other state units.”

    The Airmen agreed the importance of this type of training in keeping the Air National Guard the first choice for homeland operations.

    In a real-world situation, the search and rescue assets throughout the state would be activated.

    “Our goal is to be out the door in four hours,” Kissinger said.

    “This is huge training,” Kissinger said. “We are now training together and learning how each unit works. This is our first joint training exercise.”

    The use of Camp Smith, which also serves as a key New York National Guard logistical and command hub during emergency operations in the Hudson Valley, was a key to the success of the training, Donaldson said.

    “I have no doubt that the support and training we received here will pay dividends when our USAR teams are called upon for their life-saving skill-sets during real-world events. We're actively planning additional collaborative training opportunities in the very near future," he said.



    Date Taken: 10.22.2015
    Date Posted: 10.22.2015 16:06
    Story ID: 179680

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