of joint training between the Hunter Fire Department and various
local authorities culminated with a field training exercise at
Hunter Army Airfield Feb. 6.
The exercise, conducted at the recently built Ranger shoot house,
included the raid of a suspected drug lab, medical evacuations and
emergency care, suspect apprehension, and chemical
Hunter Fire Department's focus during the exercise was
individual, rapid decontamination. It included a hose down,
detergent scrub and rinse.
"(For the exercise) we were called in at the last minute to
respond to an explosion," said Jim Degnan, HFD assistant chief. "We
were asked to provide emergency decontamination to patients prior to
their transport to a medical facility."
The HFD portion came at the tail end of the exercise. The Chatham
County Sheriff's Department special tactics team, with participation
from representatives of the Marine Security Force and Pentagon
Police Department, kicked off the training. Their mission was to
execute a simultaneous two-floor raid on the suspected crystal meth
lab of a known drug dealer.
During the raid there was an explosion at the lab, which resulted
in multiple casualties and allowed the suspects to flee. A search
and rescue mission was conducted in the building, with the
casualties being evacuated and assessed outside.
"This was a chance for the students to get out of the classroom,"
said David Hall, Rescue Training Inc., president. The students he
spoke of, numbering 12, are part of RTI's Tactical Medic Program -
designed to train medics who directly support emergency response
"The training allows the students to focus on patient care while
operating in a real-world scenario - everybody has a chance to do
The casualties, who included authorities and civilians, exposed
to caustic substances from the explosion were sent to the HFD
decontamination station following their initial medical
While HFD decontaminated casualties, the CCPD team searched for
and apprehended the suspects in the woods behind the shoot
Overall, the participants in the exercise were very pleased with
"Due to (the G8 summit) coming here in June, it's advantageous to
everyone - the Chatham County Sheriff's Department, and other local
and federal agencies, to train together."
Degnan agreed, "(The HFD firefighters) learned some very valuable
lessons in working together with local agencies. Ultimately,
everyone involved in the joint training wins."
According to Degnan, the events of Sept. 11, 2001, proved that
one agency couldn't handle catastrophes of that magnitude alone.
"The more we can do to prepare (for future emergencies), the better
off we will be."