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Soldiers and Marines stationed in the National Capital Region (NCR) dug, cut and crawled through mounds of concrete, steel and just about anything else you can think of for 72 hours continuous earlier this month, keeping their rescue skills ready for any incident within the NCR.

Soldiers from the U.S. Army 911th Technical Rescue Engineer Company (911th TREC) and Marines from the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) conducted joint training Jan. 10-12 at the Downey Responder Training Facility (DRTF) on the Naval Support Facility Indian Head Stump Neck Annex.

“A joint exercise like this gives us confidence that in a real world incident, our two units know the capabilities of each other and we can trust each other to do the job correctly and safely,” said Army Staff Sgt. John Cogley, Squad Leader for the 911th TREC 2nd Platoon, First Squad. “I have been at this assignment for more than three years, and this training gives my guys hands on experience with all of the tools they need to use to do their assigned tasks.”

The DRTF is named after New York Firefighter and former Marine Raymond M. Downey Sr. who died during his battalion’s rescue efforts at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The facility is CBIRF’s main training site.

“We have rope rescue, confined space rescue, vehicle extraction, trench rescue and structural collapse training capabilities and the exercise scenario being used allows instruction in each of those areas,” said Patrick Higgins, lead Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear or High Yield Explosive (CBRNE) instructor for CBIRF. “Working with the Soldiers of the 911th benefits our training program, because if the call to respond to an incident in the NCR comes, we will be working together.”

The 911th TREC is the only unit of its kind in the U.S. Army. It is comprised of combat engineers trained in technical rescue tasks, specializing in rescue techniques for victims trapped in structurally damaged buildings.

“I can’t speak highly enough about the resources CBIRF has at this facility,” said Army 1st Lt. Charles Robitaille, 911th TREC 2nd Platoon Leader. “If we need to respond to a real world incident, this experience of working with the CBIRF Marines will be invaluable. It will make interoperability so much easier.”

On order, 911thTREC deploys and conducts technical rescue operations in support of military and/or federal contingencies in the NCR. The unit trains with state, local and federal agencies to include FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue Teams and the Marines of CBIRF to develop and maintain the most advanced skills in the field.

“We can tunnel through an engine block if necessary with an exothermic torch, and that works at a crazy temperature around 3,000 degrees so it will cut through metal and concrete,” said Cpl. Nathaniel James a Technical Rescue Marine with CBIRF’s Initial Response Force B. “I’ve been with CBIRF for three years, and for me, I am getting a lot of satisfaction out of teaching the younger Marines and Soldiers.”