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OFFICIAL NEWS RELEASE

 
 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Public Information Unit:
Lt. Albert Della Fave (609) 882-2000 x6514
SFC Kevin Rehmann        X6515
Sgt. Gerald Lewis              X6516
Tpr. Stephen Jones          X6513

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 26, 2004


 
 
RESCUE TEAM SEARCHES RUBBLE PILE FOR "SURVIVORS"
State Police Lead Training Exercise to Bolster USAR Team Ranks

West Trenton, N.J. - Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, today announced the culmination of a weeklong "Structural Collapse Operations" course at Lakehurst Air Engineering Station, the home of New Jersey Task Force One, the state's premier Urban Search & Rescue (USAR) team. The class concluded with a massive search and rescue exercise on a 10,000 square foot rubble pile simulating the collapse of a ten-story building. Participants who successfully completed the course are now full-fledged members of NJ Task Force One, (NJ-TF1) which works under the State Police Homeland Security Branch. The team is the only asset in this state able to handle a large, sustained urban search and rescue mission.

Through classroom and practical exercise, course participants received comprehensive training in locating and extracting trapped victims after stabilization of a collapsed structure. Students performed intensive exercises in breaking and breaching, lifting and heavy rigging, shoring and cribbing, and extensive rescue techniques. Instructors brought a heightened sense of realism to the exercise by planting human scent at different locations within the debris pile to test participants' rescue skills. The completion of this weeks training ensures that the team is prepared to operate at peak performance and adds 41 new members with expertise in diverse fields.

"NJ Task Force One is a crucial component of the Homeland Security Branch," stated Colonel Fuentes. "The citizens of New Jersey are truly fortunate to have such an expertly trained, well equipped team of emergency service professionals under one roof. Never before in New Jersey has there been such a high level of preventive, as well as, emergency response measures in place."

NJ-TF1 was established in 1999 to respond to critical emergencies including building collapses, confined space rescues, trench rescues, natural/manmade disasters, hazmat/chemical accidents and swift water/flood response. The team is a state asset to be utilized when theses incidents exceed local capabilities.

With the conclusion of today's exercise, NJ-TF1 is fully staffed by 210 highly trained members from the fire, police and medical communities, as well as the private sector, representing all 21 counties of the state. These experts are divided into three complete teams of 70 people, covering each of six operational components needed in critical incident response. Sixty of its members are qualified hazardous materials technicians, trained to deal with weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

It is envisioned that this team will eventually become certified as a federal rescue team. Rep. Rodney Freylinghysen has introduced legislation, HR 452, which has been co-sponsored by the entire New Jersey congressional delegation, to designate NJ-TF1 as part of the FEMA US&R Response System. Additionally, Sen. Jon Corzine introduced a companion bill, S 232, which was co-sponsored by Sen. Lautenberg.

NJ-TF1 is based at the Naval Engineering Station in Lakehurst, N.J. Operations are conducted from 18,000 square feet of hangar space and a seven-acre outdoor training site, which includes a 10,000 sq. ft. training rubble pile.

The six operational components are self-contained units, equipped to manage search and rescue operations for periods of up to ten days. They include the following functions:

  • RESCUE
    • Proven during the World Trade Center deployment
    • Highly specialized technical rescue equipment
      • Hydraulic tools capable of coring, cutting and breaking large pieces of concrete found in a collapsed structure environment
        • Enables rescuers to access and remove trapped victims
      • Equipped for high-angle rope, trench collapse, and confined space rescues
  • MEDICAL
    • Equipped to set up temporary emergency room on site
    • Allows team doctors and paramedics to perform procedures in the field
  • PLANNING
    • Advanced computer technology to assist in the planning, documentation, and accounting of incidents
    • Includes professionally licensed structural engineers and Hazardous Materials/Weapons of Mass Destruction Technicians
    • Provides site plans, photos and engineering assessments
  • LOGISTICS
    • Sets up complete base of operations, including sleeping and dining shelters, shower and bathroom facilities and command post
    • Maintenance and tracking of equipment during deployment
  • HAZMAT
    • Monitors and surveys for hazardous materials at search and rescue sites
    • Implements defensive mitigation of substances
    • Provides emergency decontamination for members or victims
  • SEARCH
    • Most specialized and advanced cache of search equipment in the nation includes acoustical/seismic detection devices and thermal imaging cameras
    • Searched the voids and crevices in the WTC rubble pile
    • Canine element consists of ten canines and their handlers also excelled during the 9/11 disaster
      • Three canine teams FEMA certified for rubble search
      • Remainder to be certified this year
      • Recently honored by Westminster Kennel Club at New York show
      • Inducted by Purina Inc. into Hall of Fame at the N.J. Veterinary Association Convention

NJ-TF1 has approximately 60,000 lbs. of equipment (required by FEMA) specifically designed for rescue operations involving collapsed structure emergencies. This equipment is transported in three custom-built vehicles (two tractor trailers and a straight-body truck) outfitted to serve as mobile command posts. The trucks are also designed to be air-transportable via military aircraft. During 9/11, the vehicles allowed the team to deploy rapidly and operate efficiently from its supply center on wheels. These vehicles supported not only NJ-TF1, but several other FEMA task forces, units of the New York Fire Department, and the New York and Port Authority Police Departments.

In October 2003, NJ-TF1 responded to Atlantic City at the request of the Atlantic City Fire Department to assist in the tragic collapse a 10-story annex of the Tropicana Hotel & Casino, which was under construction. Upon arrival, NJ-TF1 assumed primary responsibility of search and rescue operations for the three remaining victims of the collapse. After 18 hours of intense and comprehensive operations, the three remaining victims were found entombed in the concrete and recovered by NJ-TF1 members. Several shoring and cribbing operations were conducted during the search and recovery to keep the unstable structure from further collapsing on team members and other support personnel.

NJ-TF1 developed a flood/swift water rescue program to respond to water emergencies throughout the State. This program is a cooperative effort between NJ-TF1 and the State Police Marine Services Bureau. In September of 2003, a swift water rescue strike force from NJ-TF1 was deployed to the Atlantic County Training Center in advance of hurricane Isabel.

Task Force One Taken Under the Wing of the State Police Homeland Security Branch
With the support of the Governor and Attorney General, Colonel Fuentes initiated the newly formed Homeland Security Branch (HSB) to allow the State Police to coordinate statewide resources such as NJ Task Force One for a strong and fast response to emerging public safety threats and disaster response. The branch was formed by joining the Emergency Management Section and the newly established Special Operations Section under one command. This greatly increased the state's capacity to respond to an elevated threat level or any event requiring the concerted efforts of law enforcement, intelligence and emergency response workers.

"This new security branch gives us the unified, efficient command structure necessary to integrate our resources with our partners at the municipal, county and federal levels," said Fuentes. "NJ Task Force One mirrors this concept by partnering police, fire, emergency service, as well as, civilian personnel into a powerful force capable of responding anywhere at anytime to save lives."

Lt. Colonel Lori Hennon-Bell, head of the Homeland Security Branch stated, "NJ Task Force One is an amazing asset within the Homeland Security Branch. To have it under our streamlined command structure gives us immediate access to the resources we need for any incident from a hurricane to a building collapse as demonstrated today."

A key component of the Homeland Security Branch is the 24-hour Command Operations Center. A command-level officer is always at this center with the authority to deploy the people and equipment needed for any situation. This officer has the ability to reach beyond personnel assigned to the branch and call on additional troopers from throughout the entire division.

Along with the 210 members of Task Force One, the HSB is comprised of nine bureaus incorporating the most highly trained, mechanized State Police units performing a diverse array of services. They include Arson/Bomb, Canine, Hazardous Materials Response, Radiological Emergency Response, Aviation, Marine, T.E.A.M.S. (tactical unit), Urban Search and Rescue and many others. There are approximately 1,315 people, including 550 state troopers in the branch.

Previously, units such as the Arson/Bomb Unit reported to the Investigations Branch, while Marine Services and Aviation were under separate sections of the Field Operations Branch. This reorganization places the State Police assets most useful to homeland security incidents under one command. It also recognizes the potential impacts of commercial freight carriers on homeland security and incorporates operations focused on monitoring the shipping and trucking industries that are so important to New Jersey.

This reorganization will allow State Police to coordinate an immediate deployment of its specialized law enforcement resources to assist local police in protecting the state's communities, families and critical facilities from potential terrorist attacks. The realignment also streamlines the division's ability to immediately respond to an incident - whether emanating from a terrorist attack or a major catastrophe - with its full array of highly specialized assets.

NJ-TF1 Members

Exercise Participants

Agency

Specialty

Bloomer, Art

Kearney FD

RESCUE

Campbell, Steve

Elizabeth FD

RESCUE

Cannon, Mike

Jersey City FD

LOGISTICS

Caprio, Angelo

Physician - Private

MEDICAL

Carey, Matt

Private

SEARCH

Clark, Ray

Ocean City FD

LOGISTICS

DeMaio, Angelo

Atlantic City FD

RESCUE

Demaise, Chris

NJ State Police - "A" TEAMS

RESCUE

Disbrow, Robert

Bayonne FD

HAZ-MAT

Donahue, Michael

Elizabeth FD

RESCUE

Drennan, Paul

Jersey City FD

RESCUE

Dreyer, Chris

NJ State Police - "C" TEAMS

RESCUE

Duffy, John

Patterson FD

HAZ-MAT

Emenecker, Bryan

Camden FD

RESCUE

English, Phillip

Greentree Vol. FD

HAZ-MAT

Gardner, Bob

UMDNJ

MEDICAL

Garlock, Rich

Engineer – Private

STRUCTURES

Gribbins, Joe

W. Windsor Emer. Services

HAZ-MAT

Grilli, Scott

NJ State Police - Radio Tech.

COMMUNICATIONS

Hattan, Ray

Newark FD

RESCUE

Hoffman, Thomas

Hunterdon Med. Center

RESCUE

Hreniuk, Donna

Private

K-9

Knecht, Bill

Pt. Pleasant Vol. FD

LOGISTICS

Lopez, Jack

Bayonne FD

RESCUE

Magee, Andy

Camden FD

RESCUE

Mascio, Enrico

Wildwood FD

LOGISTICS

McConologue, Steve

Elizabeth FD

RESCUE

McDermott, Robert

Cherry Hill FD

RESCUE

Nagy, Ray

Bristol-Myers Squibb

HAZ-MAT

Osborne, Robert

Kearney FD

HAZ-MAT

Ostrander, Lewis

Wildwood FD

PLANNING

Perry, John

New Castle Co. FD

RESCUE

Psarianos, Kevin

NJ DEP

PLANNING

Shipman, Robert

Atlantic City Communications

LOGISTICS

Smith, Thomas

Atlantic City FD

RESCUE

Stout, Randy

NJ DOT

LOGISTICS

Tai, Bill

NYC Parks Dept.

SEARCH

Turner, Barry

Wayne PD

HAZ-MAT

Valerian, Chris

St. Mary's Hosp. - Hoboken

MEDICAL

Walters, Dan

Vineland FD

HAZ-MAT

Zulla, David

Bristol-Myers Squibb

PLANNING

     

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