Volunteers Train for Search and Rescue - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

06/14/05

Volunteers Train for Search and Rescue

High places... High places...
...and tight spaces. ...and tight spaces.

It doesn't happen all the time. But when it, does, you need very specialized help in a hurry. Remember the building collapse on Bay Street a few years back, with a man trapped in the rubble? Now, there's a new team in the works to respond to those kinds of calls: GSAR, or Georgia Search and Rescue.

More than 100 volunteers are learning the ropes. We checked in on their first day of training. It's been a hot one out there for this hard work, but the heat isn't the only challenge these people will have to face.

Have you ever been afraid of heights?

"You have to be able to do it," said Chief James Vickers. "It's rough training."

Are you afraid of being in closed, confined spaces? Better not be if you plan on saving someone trapped beneath piles of rubble.

"If they are able to pass all the training, then they can stay on the team," said Chief Vickers.

It's a team composed of firefighters, police officers and anybody else who can tough it out. "It's physical, it's dirty and it's sweaty," said Earnest McDuffie of the Hinesville Fire Department.

And you need to be able to work in tough environments for hours and days and weeks at a time. "We're going to be able to do so many things to help people," said Tiffany Marshall of the Hinesville Fire Department. "Hopefully we won't have to use a team."

Today was just day one of their training. They have about 600 hours left to go, and what they did today is nothing compared to they kind of training they have yet to face.

"This training is set up incase you have to respond to collapse, heavy construction like the World Trade Center or the Pentagon," explained Chief Vickers.

In an area where hurricanes threaten safety, this Georgia Search and Rescue crew will need to dispatch at a moment's notice.

"We don't know if it's going to happen in our community, you don't know if it's going to happen in Savannah," noted firefighter Mark Smith.

There will be a total of 150 volunteers making up the Coastal Georgia Search and Rescue team. Half will be operating out of Savannah, the other half in Brunswick.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen, nteigen@wtoc.com

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