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Marines Learn About Urban Search and Rescue
by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Caitlin Bevel - October 26, 2014

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SAN FRANCISCO - Marine firefighters from I Marine Expeditionary Force and personnel from the province of Bohol, Philippines, trained for Urban Search and Rescue with the San Francisco Fire Department at Treasure Island, California, Oct. 10, 2014.

The three-part training was part of San Francisco Fleet Week 2014 and focused on skills needed to rescue survivors in the aftermath of an earthquake or major disaster.

“They're moving and lifting heavy objects, learning some basic shoring techniques, and breaching, breaking and coring through concrete structures,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 William Waugaman, a firefighter with I MEF.

The Marines involved in the exercise had a lot to take in over the course of the training.

Marine firefighters with I Marine Expeditionary Force lift a slab of concrete for urban search and rescue training with the San Francisco Fire Department at Treasure Island, Calif. on Oct. 10, 2014 ... during San Francisco Fleet Week 2014. Interoperability training enables civil-military agencies and personnel to share techniques and procedures, which also gives them the opportunity to gain understanding of the roles, responsibilities and capabilities of each agency. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Caitlin Bevel)
Marine firefighters with I Marine Expeditionary Force lift a slab of concrete for urban search and rescue training with the San Francisco Fire Department at Treasure Island, Calif. on Oct. 10, 2014 ... during San Francisco Fleet Week 2014. Interoperability training enables civil-military agencies and personnel to share techniques and procedures, which also gives them the opportunity to gain understanding of the roles, responsibilities and capabilities of each agency. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Caitlin Bevel)

“We, as the Marines, have been tasked by the MEF commander to assist the civil authority in recovery and resilience,” said Waugaman. “We are fostering trust and confidence with the San Francisco firefighters, learning their skill set, and becoming familiar with their tools and personnel.”

However, the Marines weren't focused on just learning a few new tricks. Throughout fleet week, they are working to build real relationships with their civilian counterparts and the people of San Francisco.

“We want to show the people what we do every day. We're war fighters, but we're also in support of the local authority,” said Waugaman. “We need to be able to make those liaisons with a high level of trust so that we can get right into the fight and do the most good we can.”

Many of the participants shared Waugaman's sentiment, including representatives from the province of Bohol, Philippines, who are also taking part in the USAR training and fleet week.

“We seized fleet week as an opportunity for us to be active participants in the process, especially for the medical and emergency services training for humanitarian assistance,” said Gliceria Doloritos, executive assistant with the Philippine province of Bohol, Office of the Governor. “I have learned a lot about the interoperability between agencies here in the United States working with the fire department and watching the Marines working with other agencies.”

The province of Bohol currently has relatively limited interoperability between their civilian and military resources and is using their experiences in San Francisco to expand on what they know.

“This is something that's not necessarily new to us, but we can identify a number of approaches and strategies to really strengthen our way of thinking about working with different agencies in our locality,” said Doloritos.

Doloritos explained that one of the things they wanted to learn was how the Marines approach the logistics of moving resources from place to place and then supporting the system and resources already in place.

“We don't have the luxury of logistical resources to move people and materials,” said Doloritos. “But what we're more interested in is the way you do things here and how we can redefine these things so they're more acceptable to us in our local environment.”

The Philippine representatives accepted the invitation to participate in fleet week partially because of their recent history with disaster and their experience with the American military's approach to humanitarian assistance.

“In my province where we were hit by a 7.2 earthquake, although there was not much visibility of the U.S. Marines, we always felt the support of the United States and their people,” said Doloritos.

Doloritos added that one of the greatest assets the Philippines has when trying to recover from a major disaster is a large number of people willing to go to the extreme to help each other, and the more they learn, the more effective those people can be.

“I think we're just fortunate enough to have friends like the people of the United States of America, who are more than willing to assist us not just in the aspect of development, but also in humanitarian support,” said Doloritos.

Participating in fleet week gave both nations a better understanding of how they can work together in different scenarios and how to support each other, explained Doloritos. He added that they are thankful for the United States' support, the invitation to fleet week, and the opportunity to learn.

“In the overall scale, we're so thankful, not only to the City of San Francisco, the fire department, the police department, the armed forces, the Navy, the Marines, the Coast Guard, but I think we should be more thankful to the whole brave and humble people of the United States of America,” said Doloritos.

He said he agreed with the idea of Mayor Ed Lee, the Mayor of San Francisco, that to move into a new project or start something different, we have to start with relationships.

By U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Caitlin Bevel
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2014

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