News: Philippine, US pararescue teams train during Balikatan 2012
Story by Pfc. Codey Underwood
CLARK AIR BASE, Philippines — Philippine and U.S. pararescue teams conducted collapsed building training here, April 17, during Exercise Balikatan 2012.
Teams with the Philippine Air Force’s 505th Rescue Squadron and U.S. Air Force’s 31st Rescue Squadron exchanged tips and viewpoints on how to successfully perform rescues and apply medical procedures during the training.
Pararescue jumpers practiced making harnesses out of rope, safely hoisted each other up, and dragged each other around the room and out of the building using the hasty stretchers they created.
“The Philippine Air Force knows a lot about typhoons and things we haven’t had to deal with,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Brent K. McCall, a combat rescue officer with the 31st Rescue Squadron. “Giving us information from the experience they have will greatly benefit us if we ever have to rescue somebody in that environment.”
Both units also discussed tactics including ways to evaluate the situation, identifying a collapsed structure, creating passageways and proper building marking procedures to minimize their exposure to dangers.
“Although we have our own skills and training, the U.S. parajumpers help further our capabilities,” said Philippine Air Force 2nd Lt. Rey D. Aguirre Jr., a pararescue officer with the 505th. “We will first teach this training to the rest of our personnel then share the knowledge with other Philippine Air Force units.”
Pararescue jumpers also practiced lifting and moving heavy objects during a rescue using only wood and metal poles they found outside the classroom.
When Balikatan 2012 is over and the two units return to daily life, knowledge learned from both sides will be retaught to the rest of their personnel. This training improves both forces ability to respond quickly and work together in the event of natural disasters and other crises that could affect public health and safety.
“This training has improved my knowledge of paramedic skills and what we do on a regular basis,” said Philippine Air Force Staff Sgt. Darius T. Valdez, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the 505th. “What I know now, I can later explain and teach to other pararescue jumpers we have.”
The two units have a lot more training and tactics to discuss during the rest of Balikatan, according to McCall. “I’m grateful we get to work with the Philippine Air Force and learn the knowledge they know.”
Aguirre also plans on acquiring more knowledge from his U.S. counterparts.
“The training is not yet finished, so there are a lot of things that the Philippines and U.S. have to learn,” said Aguirre. “We will continue to train, to not only improve ourselves, but share our knowledge with the U.S.”
Balikatan, is a Filipino word which means “shoulder-to-shoulder,” and is the spirit of the Philippines and U.S. militaries’ longstanding relationship deeply rooted in cooperation.