Demolished Indiana University Building Used for Search Training

By ABBY TONSING, The Herald-Times | June 14, 2013

A crew of Bloomington, Ind., firefighters used ladders leaned against a collapsed section of roof atop the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house to inch their way over fallen debris and splintered support beams.

They used orange spray paint to mark the time they began searching for people trapped in the rubble – “1245 BFD.”

Wearing red helmets, face masks, knee pads, goggles and gloves, the firefighters handed tools, saws and lights up the ladder to one another.

No need to worry. It’s all a part of this week’s search-and-rescue training exercise, called “United Front II,” according to The Herald-Times.

Three Bloomington buildings, partially demolished last week, are being used in search-and-rescue training exercises through Thursday. The training is staged to simulate the destruction of EF5 tornadoes with 200 mph winds.

Training sessions are also happening this week at the old downtown post office at Fourth and Washington streets, and at the former Indiana University Wrubel Computing Center, at 10th Street and the Indiana 45/46 Bypass.

During the exercise, an incident command center was established at the Bloomington Fire Department headquarters at Fourth and Lincoln streets.

As the Bloomington firefighters conducted their search Tuesday afternoon, another search team entered an opening in the rubble on the first floor of the fraternity’s living quarters. After a few minutes, one man carried out a mannequin, placed it on an orange rescue stretcher, moved around the side of the fraternity and placed the stretcher behind a fire truck.

Yet another team at the fraternity’s front door carried a mannequin on a yellow stretcher to a nearby blue tent. They went back into the house, and emerged minutes later with another mannequin on a stretcher.

“The overall goal of this exercise is to train and share different search- and-rescue activities,” Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Lowry of the Indiana National Guard said Tuesday afternoon at the old fraternity house, at 1200 N. Jordan Ave.

An estimated 100 members of the Indiana National Guard, Bloomington Fire Department, Indiana’s Task Force One and other agencies participated in Tuesday’s search-and-rescue simulation at the fraternity house.

Lowry called the training a coordinated effort of sharing ideas.

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