Guam RED HORSE Airmen provide lifesaving training

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wilson
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Firefighters from Andersen Air Force Base and Naval Base Guam joined with their island partners from the Guam Fire Department to develop the skills to perform high-risk rescues by participating in a three-week Defense Department Rescue Technician Course here in September.

Thirteen military and civilian firefighter students participated in the course taught by instructors from the 554th RED HORSE Squadron, said Stanley Torres, the Andersen AFB Fire and Emergency Services chief of training.

"This is higher echelon training," he said. "It's one of the hardest courses we have in the firefighter community and there are usually students who have to washout due to the academic and physical requirements."

The 554th RED HORSE Squadron instructors are firefighters assigned to the Silver Flag course. Silver Flag is a civil engineering course designed to use multiple Air Force specialties to operate from austere expeditionary environments.

"We teach at Silver Flag, but we also are a mobile training team where we teach this specific course to military members across the Pacific," said Staff Sgt. Nathan Milan, one of three RED HORSE instructors teaching the course. "It's not a required course for firefighters so we focus primarily on training the best candidates possible (because of the difficulty and washout rates)."

The course featured classroom work on procedures for rescuing victims at elevated environments and in closed spaces, Milan said. Because of the highly specialized nature of the course, graduating firefighters become instant assets to incident commanders responding to emergencies where a person could be injured or stranded at a hard-to-reach place.

"We could have a guy working up on the tower get stranded and tangled up in a line," he said. "You need someone with the training to perform that kind of rescue."

According to Torres, having all of the firefighters on the island qualified on these difficult rescue techniques would be ideal, but it's not realistic due to training limitations.

"We want all of our firefighters to get this training but it's so highly specialized and we can't teach it anywhere, we need skilled instructors," Torres said. "The best opportunity for them to get it is when they're young in their career."

Firefighters who complete the course bring firsthand knowledge and hands-on experience in the event of real-world operations and can provide on-scene commanders an invaluable resource, Torres said.

"When they come back to their station after completing the course and we respond to an incident in an elevated or confined space if someone is injured, our guys at the direction of the incident commander, are trained to do all of these skills," Torres said. "When the incident commander says 'let's get it done,' we get it done -- our job is to save lives."