How do first responders prepare for disasters like Surfside collapse? Here’s a look at the training

Task Force units undergo 10,000 hours of special training a year

More than 40 firefighters from Central Florida who are part of the Task Force 4 team deployed to assist in the search and rescue operations in Surfside. They’re among the largest deployment for a non-hurricane response in the history of the state.
More than 40 firefighters from Central Florida who are part of the Task Force 4 team deployed to assist in the search and rescue operations in Surfside. They’re among the largest deployment for a non-hurricane response in the history of the state.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – More than 40 firefighters from Central Florida who are part of the Task Force 4 team deployed to assist in the search and rescue operations in Surfside. They’re among the largest deployment for a non-hurricane response in the history of the state.

“Right now we’re still in a search and rescue phase. We have not yet moved on to recovery but I assure you that they will be there until the job is done,” Operations Captain for Orange County Fire Rescue, Greg Hubbard said.

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Firefighters from Orange County Fire Rescue, Seminole and Lake counties, as well as the cities of Orlando, Clermont, Winter Park and Reedy Creek are working 12-hour shifts starting at midnight at the sight of the Surfside building collapse in Miami-Dade County.

“What they’ll do is they’ll breach their way down — they might drill little holes that you can see atop — to drop search cams in and microphones,” he said. “That’s what they’re looking for right now, they’re looking for survivable void spaces throughout that structure.”

Task Force units undergo 10,000 hours of special training a year to prepare for disasters like the one they’re at now and have a special certification.

“We build concrete forms, right? That are reinforced with steel rebar and we set it on top of our simulated collapsed area. That training really entails breaching through concrete and also stabilizing the structure as you go in,” Hubbard said. “When they’re clearing this area they have to do it in such a way that they’re not making the debris pile unstable.”

When asked if the training for task force members would change as a result of the search and rescue operations at the site of the disaster, Hubbard said he didn’t think it would.

“I don’t expect the training to change. The more experience you get and what you realize is successful versus not successful you always change and evolve that’s the process to getting better but the basics of how we handle structural collapses like this are the same back in ’01 when 9/11 happened as they are today,” he said.


About the Author:

Carolina Cardona highlights all Central Florida has to offer in her stories on News 6 at Nine. She joined News 6 in June 2018 from the Telemundo station in Philadelphia.