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Baltimore Special Ops team trains for confined space rescue a day after Thai cave rescue

Posted at 5:29 PM, Jul 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-11 17:29:07-04

The Baltimore Fire Department's special operations team trained to break heavy concrete, preparing for a rescue situation. It comes just a day after the very successful cave rescue in Thailand and coincidentally, the techniques they developed are very similar.

"They had to widen passage ways, a lot of crevice areas and things like that. We saw them breaching a lot of rock so that they could move equipment and personnel," Battalion Chief James Wallace said. 

About a dozen firefighters from the team trained at the city's Department of Transportation Wednesday, using a saw and jackhammer to break through thick concrete. 

"We actually have them create passage ways or pathways to either conduct an operation or to remove victims," Wallace said. 

As the Battalion Chief of the special operations team, Wallace applauds the international effort to rescue the 12 boys and their soccer coach in just 3 days. 

"It’s a massive coordination effort, in addition to a lot of logistical concerns that come into play with regard to equipment, being able to sustain personnel, and keep the operation moving the way they did. Very impressive," Wallace said. 

He says that close coordination is something to learn from.

"It's takes a lot of people that can get together with the same kind of training, that can speak the same kind of language on these incidents to achieve a favorable outcome," Wallace said. 

Although a situation as severe as the cave rescue in Thailand couldn't happen with the Maryland terrain, the team trains almost every Wednesday to be prepared for any type of emergency. 

"This team is involved in a lot of hazardous material incidents. They are also the guys that do the trench rescues, building collapse, confined space," Wallace said. "We do a lot of rope rescues which we can tie into the operation that went on in Thailand. You need those type of rope rescue skills, the knot familiarization."