Special Operations, that is. Did you know that Howard County has a special operations team in our fire and rescue services department? And that they are using a very versatile and energy efficient way to deploy their assets wherever they are needed?
They are using #PODpower. Platform on Demand.
There’s a Collapse Rescue POD.
A HAZMAT POD.
And a Mass Casualty POD.
Tuesday we had the opportunity to attend a press/media/blogger event at the Howard County Fire and Rescue Training Center. I joined about two dozen others to hear how we are using this method to provide support all over the county using two transport vehicles. The units are stationed in Kings Contrivance, convenient to I-95, US29, and fairly easy access to reach I-70 as well. Last year they responded to approximately 160 calls, an average of one almost every other day (technically one every 2.25 days but only geeky mathematicians like me would calculate that).
It was a large initial investment, but it works very efficiently. Instead of having numerous single mission dedicated trucks spread all over the area, the county uses the transport vehicle to grab the necessary POD and take it to a call. You only have to license and insure that transporter as a vehicle. Maintenance costs are lower too.
We split up into small groups and rotated through demonstrations, including some hands on opportunities. Including running the remote controlled crane.
This is the unit some of you may have seen in the news, rescuing a Clydesdale that was stuck in a ditch just over the county line in Baltimore.
The above picture was from the county fire facebook page and it was in our handout.
The collapse unit was just recently used when someone drove an SUV through a sliding glass door entry in an apartment complex near COSTCO.
The special operations team shored up the corner of the building which had been damaged by the vehicle, keeping the structure safe from collapse until it could be permanently repaired.
The mass casualty POD was really interesting. It gives the county the ability to simultaneously “triage” up to 50 people. The type of capability that could support a bus accident, or an incident at a business, for example.
Every green container has the necessary equipment a paramedic could use for each individual victim.
This unit hasn’t used for any mass casualties, thankfully, but the ATV it houses has been utilized on the miles of trails throughout Columbia and the county parks.
According to their leader, LT Zimmerman, all of the team members are trained in HAZMAT ops, and there are members who support the other missions. They currently have 120 people who work in spec ops. Out of a 900 member force. I can remember when I moved here 40+ years ago, we probably had less than half that number and many of them were volunteers.
The fire and rescue services here have come a long way, with 12 stations, their own training facility that opened ten years ago, and so many other improvements. One near and dear to us out here in well and septic land, is the installation of all of the underground fire suppression tanks. Most are located at our schools but they are also found on some of the more rural roads.
I was glad we got the chance to see the new capabilities in action, and a chance to talk to those dedicated men and women who led the demonstrations for us.
Thanks to all those in the Public Information Office who invited us and managed the event, and to those in the spec ops team, who provided us with insight into their role in fire and rescue services.