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Air advisors begin new partnership with Paraguayan air force

Asunción, Paraguay

Staff Sgt. Cory Ridenour, 66th Training Squadron SERE specialist, conducts rope rescue training with search and rescue personnel from the Paraguayan air force during a mobile training mission in Paraguarí, Asunción. (Courtesy Photo)

ASUNCION, Paraguay (AFNS) -- The 571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron completed a mobile training team mission with the Paraguayan air force, or FAP, in Asuncion, Paraguay from Sept. 17 to 28.

During the MTT, air advisors focused on rotary wing aircraft water survival and twin tension rope rescue techniques.

“This mission was the first time we have advised in Paraguay and I can tell the friendship and camaraderie we have built with the partner nation will be a lasting one,” said Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Wilson, 571st MSAS MTT team sergeant.

One of the FAP students, Sargento Primero Alexis Araujo, explained how this training provided them with the necessary tools to expand their search and rescue capabilities and to better enable them for future operations.

“This training was really good and something new for us,” Araujo said. “We learned new things, especially the rappelling and new ways to create an anchor point. The Stokes litter was also a very good piece of equipment we hadn’t seen before.”

Staff Sgt. Cory Ridenour, who augmented the 571st MSAS as the lead instructor for the rope rescue course, explained how the MSAS motto “Knowledge is power” gave him a different perspective on being a survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialist and training people.

“I learned that I may find myself training people who don't always have the same access to equipment as we do in the U.S. Air Force,” Ridenour said. “Our team focused on teaching these students safe ways to rescue people with a high angle ropes system that are very minimal and lightweight. This was my focus because we could not leave them with a ton of gear to use, but instead we left them with knowledge on using what they had, and knowledge is the lightest backpack they will ever carry.”

The MSAS was also able to use this training to teach one of their own fire protection personnel for future twin tension systems training missions.

“While rope rescue is a key responsibility for fire fighters, the twin tension system was new for this individual and attending this training enabled him to become familiar and increase the number of instructors from the unit qualified to teach it,” Wilson said.

The MTT mission, which was accomplished at four different locations throughout Paraguay, required extensive coordination by the FAP liaison officer, Major Mario Adorno.

One particular location of the training was in a field near Paraguarí, Asunción. This location enabled instructors to provide real world scenarios to students which built on their critical thinking skills and provided realistic practice.

“It was an amazing experience and beneficial as we now have 11 personnel capable of fulfilling the search and rescue mission,” Adorno said. “We look forward to future training and plan to ask for this course again.”

Being in the field with the students also provided an opportunity to build upon the personal and professional relationships between the students and instructors to improve the long term partnership.

“It was important to build a strong relationship between the Paraguayan rescue community and ours to provide the same standard of care in case of any rescue operations or humanitarian missions,” said Tech. Sgt. Giacomo Zignago, 571st MSAS medical air advisor. “During this training the students proved that they were professional, willing to learn and excited to put their new knowledge into practice.”

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