Nebraska Task Force One prepares for potential emergencies

Nebraska Task Force One practiced rescue efforts for structural collapse emergencies this week.
Updated: Jun. 4, 2023 at 3:00 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Nebraska Task Force One practiced rescue efforts for structural collapse emergencies this week. The training is only done about once every five years. The team staged a collapsed parking garage as their final training segment.

The trainees entered the makeshift parking garage that had “collapsed”, otherwise known as Conex boxes. First, they stabilized the structure, just like they would in a real collapse. Then, they took measurements inside the structure to know how big to build things like raker shores, which is wood used to stabilize walls. These measurements will ultimately help them go back in and rescue trapped people.

“This is a new class of rescuers, so we are bringing them on board helping them understand what the various aspects of doing structural collapse work involves,” said Aaron Buettner, NE-TF1 structure specialist. “So they are learning those tools to put in their toolbox and use later on a real situation”

Trainers from NE-TF1 said a parking garage collapsing is one of the most likely events these rescue specialists could encounter and that it’s important that they keep up with this type of training.

“We’re only as good as what we train to be so that’s what they are training so hard to do, to make sure that if it did happen here or anywhere else and we are called upon they are ready to go to be able to conduct those search and rescue missions,” said Ashley Engler, NE-TF1 training manager.

There’s a lot that goes into this portion of the training, it took about 18 months to build the simulation garage. Training to be a rescue specialist takes about two years.

“We want to be the best resource we can be for anytime that we are called upon and we want to make sure we can keep people safe,” Engler said.

K-9′s were also put to the test in this parking garage collapse simulation. They used their skills to find a person stuck under a mound of concrete.

NE-TF1 is made up of 171 members, including civilian workers like doctors, engineers and K-9 handlers. The Nebraska team is one of 28 federal teams for FEMA.