Katrina’s Bittersweet Reminder

Friday, June 03, 2011

Katrina’s Bittersweet ReminderResidents, family members and friends of the Gulf coast, particularly Louisiana and Mississippi, know the devastation Katrina left in her wake. They can vividly remember the pictures of stranded New Orleaneans on rooftops, floating on scrap metal and wood, houses completely submerged or demolished and looting occurring merely as a means for survival.

What people may not know is that if it weren’t for the highly qualified rescue teams that rushed in to save stranded people, the loss of life would have been substantially worse.


Katrina’s Bittersweet ReminderIn his recently published book, “Lost in Katrina,” author Mikel Shafer tells us that the first bona fide rescue team to arrive in St. Bernard Parish (one of the hardest hit areas) was a Canadian Task Force from Vancouver, British Columbia. Tim Armstrong, Task Force Leader for Vancouver Urban Search and Rescue (as well as a long time Roco Chief Instructor and head of Roco Rescue of Canada, Inc.) received a call from the head of B.C.’s emergency preparedness office about trying to help Louisiana hurricane victims.

Many of the Canadian task force members were Roco-trained and some were even familiar with South Louisiana since Roco’s corporateoffice is located in Baton Rouge (just 50 miles west of the disaster zone). So the folks in Baton Rouge immediately got in touch with Governor Kathleen Blanco’s office to work out logistics for the USAR team.

The trek from the great white north to the swampy bayous of St. Bernard started Tuesday, but the rescue efforts lasted weeks. Tim Armstrong said that he and the others from BC became known as the “Mounties” in the post-Katrina rescue community. Nicknames like this provided a bit of comic relief, well-earned in the chaos of a wind and water ravaged city. With all that had happened, having the “Mounties” in town fit right in. To this day, the residents of St. Bernard Parish remain very grateful to the Canadian USAR team, who aided them in their darkest hour.

Katrina’s Bittersweet ReminderAs hurricane season 2011 begins this month, we look back with a sense of gratitude to all first responders and rescue pros who never hesitated to respond. Of course, we hope we never need them, but if we do, we know they’ll be there to pull us out of crisis and into recovery. Even if it means traveling nearly 3,000 miles.

2011 hurricane season is expected to be well above average.

NOAA is predicting 12-18 tropical cyclones, 6-10 hurricanes, and 3-6 major hurricanes of Category-3 strength or higher (111 mph or higher). They are also predicting the overall season to be 105-200% of average according to the Accumulated Cyclone Energy index (a method used to account for the intensity and duration of named storms and hurricanes).

Katrina’s Bittersweet ReminderThree important ingredients have combined to produce this year’s active hurricane  forecast.

Water temperatures in the Atlantic are above normal. Warm water is the fuel for tropical cyclones.Reduced wind shear over the Atlantic Ocean is expected to persist through much of the hurricane season. Less wind shear aids tropical cyclone development by ensuring the storms are not torn apart by winds aloft, and is critical to a storm’s long-term survival. We are currently in a multi-decade cycle of above average activity that began in 1995.

The good news? NOAA forecast does not consider landfall. We could have an extremely active hurricane season where most of the activity stays over water and has little impact on land. However, it only takes one land-falling hurricane to cause a disaster. Our best advice?

BE PREPARED!
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Fast Track to Technical Rescue

Friday, May 13, 2011

Fast Track to Technical RescueThe Orange (Texas) Fire Department recently completed Roco’s Fast-Track™ 120 course, which is arguably the ultimate rope rescue training experience. 

This 120-hour program works on techniques to produce a “well-rounded” rescuer who is capable of safely and effectively responding to a wide variety of confined space and rope rescue incidents.

Why is this type of training important for fire departments? OFD Deputy Chief, Jerald Ziller explains.

“A highly skilled technical rescue team is a tradition and has been deemed essential for the City of Orange Fire Department.  Our technical rescue team is partially funded by local industry which utilizes our team as the primary responders or as a secondary resource.  This collaborative effort has been in existence since the early 1990’s.  The residual effect of this training is a highly effective technical rescue team available to non-industrial situations that occur more frequently.  Most of the members of our team were trained by ROCO but we changed to utilize locally available training vendors for the past several years.  We realized that changing the basic foundation of our training affected the final performance of our teams training evolutions and possibly actual response capability.  We decided to return to ROCO for our basic training utilizing a ROCO instructor at our training facility for private training.  We feel the cost of the training as compared to the other vendors we have utilized recently is a greatest overall value.  The training was partially funded by a grant from the Texas Forest Service which added to the best overall value.”

Fast Track to Technical Rescue

The skills learned in Fast-Track™ 120 are put to work in many situations encountered by fire department personnel. “Technical rescue capability has been utilized by the Orange Fire Department on many occasions both in the industrial setting and during responses to other areas within the city.  The most frequent industrial responses are at shipbuilding or ship repair facilities.  We have utilized these skills for victims in a building collapse, construction sites, and manholes…

A relatively new service we offer to our industrial partners is confined space rescue stand-by.  Our pre-planning skills and industrial environment familiarization have been greatly improved by this service.  It gives our team members the opportunity to earn overtime wages with a neutral cost to the city because the industrial partner reimburses the city for the overtime charges,”  said Deputy Chief Jerald Ziller.

Fast Track to Technical RescueWith a large concentration of industrial facilities within its response area, the Orange Fire Department has a unique responsibility to the community as well as the surrounding industries who play such a vital role in the local economy. In delivering the highest level of service, it is important for OFD Firefighters to be trained in both Confined Space and Rope Rescue techniques.

“A well-trained and equipped rescue team is essential to meet the needs of the community as well as local industry. An efficient and effective response only serves to further enhance the trust and confidence of all its citizens,” Roco Chief Instructor, Russell Kellar elaborated.

Fast-Track™ 120 is the ultimate rope rescue experience, preparing rescuers for an effective response to a wide variety of incidents. Perfect for municipal fire departments who need a good range of skills in confined space and rope rescue. OFD Fire Chief, David Frenzel, couldn’t agree more.
 
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Customized Rescue Training for Enterprise Products

Friday, May 13, 2011

Customized Rescue Training for Enterprise ProductsThese pictures are from the Enterprise Products (Port Allen, LA) class earlier this week at Roco Training Center. They scheduled a private “Refresher” course for the rescue team. It was a great class and an energetic group!

Here’s a comment from one of the students…“First time at Roco. Great facility & instructors. Learned new ways to perform activities. Just enough classroom time…most of the time needs to be spent in the field.”

Chief instructors for this class were Chris Hansen and Mike Adams. Thanks for hanging with Roco!

      Customized Rescue Training for Enterprise Products
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Rescue I-Plus Class Photo

Friday, April 15, 2011

We had a great group at the March, Rescue I-Plus open-enrollment class in Baton Rouge. With 30 students from Louisiana to Alaska, the class was a great learning experience as well as a lot of fun. Roco Instructors for this class included Chief Instructor Russ Kellar (Austin) , Rob “Soup” Campbell (Baton Rouge); Bob Kauer (New York); Brent Glidden (LaPlace, LA); and Keith Pridgen (El Dorado, Arkansas).

Rescue I-Plus Class Photo
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Tigers trump Tide in Bassmaster College Classic

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tigers trump Tide in Bassmaster College ClassicNEW ORLEANS — The Fishing Tigers of Louisiana State University met the Alabama Crimson Tide Sunday morning on Lake Verret, which lies roughly 90 miles west of New Orleans. Roco-sponsored TJ Goodwyn shows off his wares for the LSU Tiger Team. The 2011 Bassmaster Classic will be aired this week-end (Feb 26-27) on ESPN2. The Tide came into the event as reigning champs behind their victory at the inaugural Bassmaster College Classic last year.

However, the Tide proved to be a bit low this year as the Tigers won by more than 8 pounds. 

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