Article Archive
Louisiana rescue team takes first place
Volume 24, No. 1

Louisiana Rescue Team #1 from the ExxonMobil refinery in Baton Rouge finished first in both categories at the International Rescue Training Symposium competition in November, repeating its 2007 victory at the same events.

The IRTS places the country's best industrial rescue teams in head-to-head competition with real-world scenarios. The 2008 competition was held at Texas Engineering Extension Service's Emergency Services Training Institute at Texas A&M University.

Competition is only part of what the IRTS event is about, said IRTS coordinator Jimmy Williams, retired from the Baton Rouge refinery.

"It's about cross pollination," he said. "We compete, but we have a big exchange of information that helps to bring together the best practices."

The Baton Rouge team won in the EMT/rescue and technical rescue competition. Second and third place in the EMT/rescue competition went to Marathon of Garyville, LA, and Valero Rescue of Benicia, CA, respectively.

Second and third place in the technical rescue competition went to Murpha Thon, a combined team with members from Murphy Oil USA, Marathon, and Valero of Benicia, CA, respectively.

The EMT/rescue competition involves five-member teams, placing emphasis on medical skills with some rescue and rigging. The technical rescue competition involves nine-member teams, testing the team's abilities to make safe and effective patient retrievals from inside tanks, towers or wherever a patient may become injured.

ExxonMobil in Baytown TX, served as the host for the 2008 competition.

"I'm a competitor as well as a host this year," Byrd Reed, Captain of the Baytown team said. "So my competition was to put on the best possible competition I could for people I deeply respect."

IRTS took advantage of ESTI's 52-acre Disaster City training facility with full size collapsible structures such as a strip mall, office building, industrial complex, train derailment and rubble piles.

"We don't have access to these types of problems at other facilities," Williams said. "We're driving the Cadillac here."

One innovation at the 2008 competition was the use of closed circuit television to record the entire event, he said.

"The teams will get a copy not only of their own people but what all the other teams did as well," Williams said. "What we are trying to do is to pass on as much information as we can about the best practices. What did other teams do to finish faster? Now they can see it in real life and real time."

In the end, each team takes information back to their plant that makes them even better prepared for a real world unscheduled event requiring responder intervention, Williams said.

"Saying 'We should have done it this way' or 'that was absolutely perfect' is the best way to train," Williams said.


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