A Disaster City collapse mock-up is utilized for a journey to the ground in a Stokes basket. -

A Disaster City collapse mock-up is utilized for a journey to the ground in a Stokes basket.

Every year that Chevron Phillips in Cedar Bayou, TX participates in the annual International Rescue and Emergency Care Association Conference and Challenges the team comes back with something important, Cedar Bayou captain Kris Pollio said.

“Every year we bring back something to our facility that we pick up from the other teams that come from across the country,” he said. “Now the competition has opened up even wider to include a team from Latin America.”

What the team always brings back is a wealth of information on the techniques and skills required for emergency rescue. But this year the team won something for the trophy case too. Chevron Phillips Cedar Bayou place first in the technical rescue challenge and Pollio was named best captain in that category.

“We come here to learn, learn, learn, learn as much as we can,” Pollio said.

Texas A&M Engineering Extension Services’ Brayton Fire Training Field in College Station, TX played host to the 71st annual IRECA conference and challenge held in June. The conference made use of the 52-acre training facility known as Disaster City that includes various life size simulations of high angle and confined space rescue possible in an industrial setting.

“This week was phenomenal,” said Gary Leafblad, IRECA conference coordinator. ‘We had nothing but praise for TEEX, the facility and the people.”

The stated mission of IRECA is “to provide educational programs to share and evaluate recognized knowledge, standards and abilities for emergency responders worldwide.” That extends to responders working in industry, for municipal departments and to those training to pursue a career in emergency response.

Teams participating in the challenge event included ExxonMobil, Baton Rouge, LA (three BLS teams, two first response rescue teams and one technical rescue team); ExxonMobil, Baytown, TX (two BLS teams, two FR rescue teams and one TR team); “Opportunities in Emergency Care,” Twin Cities, MN (multiple high schools involved, five BLS teams and one FR team); Phillips 66, Linden, NJ (one TR team); Chevron Phillips, Baytown, TX (one BLS team, two FR rescue teams and one TR team); Sweeny, TX complex (Joint team between Chevron Phillips and Phillips 66, one FR rescue team and on TR team); Marathon Petroleum, Cattletsburg, KY (one FR rescue team and one TR team) and the Fires Foundation, Houston, TX (one BLS team, one FR rescue team and one TR team).

A special award was presented to German Lopez of the Fires Foundation for helping spread the IRECA message to Latin America. His non profit organization helped support a rescue team representing Chile, Equador and Colombia.

“We provide training all over Latin America,” Lopez said. “We try to provide training that complies with NFPA standards.”

The Texas conference marked the second year that the Fires Foundation has participated in the IRECA challenge with plans to continue in the future, he said.

As regarding student events, Leah Gaddis and Garrett Pooley attend Osseo Senior High School in Osseo, MN. Both participated in IRECA youth division challenges with Gaddis scoring the highest test score in the youth division of the basic life support challenge.

“We belong to a high school group called ‘Opportunities in Emergency Care’ that teaches EMR and EMT skills,” Gaddis said.

Osseo is one of three high schools in the entire state that offer OEC programs, Pooley said. The three schools sent 25 students to participate in conference challenges, such as four-person rescue.

“It’s been a great learning experience here,” Pooley said. “Talking with these other people, making connections, it really helps us out.”

Lending support to the conference is a number of rescue and safety related businesses such as High-Vis Safety in Mont Belvieu, TX.  Luke Reed of High-Vis won the Max L. Spray Award for his help in drafting a scenario for the seven-man technical rescue challenge.

“David Fulbright and I worked up all the scenarios, then coordinated the competition as far as judges and timelines are concerned,” Reed said.

With regard to the technical rescue challenge, Chevron Phillips Cedar Bayou won with a score of 2,958, only 2.5 points more than the second place winner, the Phillips 66 Bayway, NJ refinery.  Only 20.5 points out of first place was the third place winner, the Chevron Phillips Sweeny, TX complex.

Best Medic in the technical rescue challenge was a tie between Dusty Barron and David Matthies.

In the First Response Rescue Challenge, first place went to ExxonMobil LA Rescue #2 from Baton Rouge, LA with 1,715 points out of a potential score of 1,915. Second place went to ExxonMobil Baytown, TX, with 1,685 points, only 30 points behind the leader.  Another ExxonMobil team placed third with 1,670 points.

Best captain in the category went to Steve Carroll. Best medic was presented to Marion Piper.

In the basic life support challenge, adult division, LA Rescue #1 captured first place, followed by LA Rescue #3 in second place and LA Rescue #2 in third place. In the youth division, “Appaca Your Wounds,” won first, followed by “Dave’s Angels” second and “Trauma Trio” third.

Next year’s IRECA challenge is also scheduled for Brayton Fire Training Field. Leafblad said he expects the number of teams participating to expand.

“We had representatives of five or six potential teams that visited during this week’s events,” he said. “One team drove up from a fire conference in San Antonio, spent two hours and gave us an assurance that they would be here next year.”