New York and Atlantic Railway (NYAR) partnered with the Long Island Rail Road and the FDNY recently to conduct emergency tunnel access training. The exercise involved more than 200 firefighters, emergency medical personnel, and emergency rescue responders in the East New York Rail Tunnel.
NYAR uses the tunnel for rail freight services to and from Brooklyn. The tunnel is approximately 3,600 feet long, making it an idea training ground. The event trained first responders on rebreather equipment in an underground environment, with smoke and other conditions that are like what FDNY firefighters will encounter in actual events.
The exercise replicated a major multi-vehicle crash in an underground highway tunnel. Firefighters and rescue teams had to enter the dark, smoke-filled tunnel as they used rebreathers and other equipment to access and extricate victims.Approximately two dozen firefighters also rescued provided on-scene emergency care to simulated victims extracted from vehicles during the training.
A rebreather is a portable breathing device that absorbs the carbon dioxide of a user’s exhaled breath to recycle unused oxygen. Rebreathers offer advantages over the SCBA typically worn by firefighters and rescue personnel.
Rebreathers can supply oxygen for more longer periods of time than standard oxygen tanks. They are most often used when firefighters must access and conduct rescues in tunnels, under collapsed buildings, in confined spaces, and in toxic environments.
The FDNY and the Los Angeles Fire Department represent the only two major U.S. cities with rebreathers.
Marlon Taylor, vice president of NYAR reported the recent training is part of an the organization’s ongoing commitment to safety and one of several programs planned with public-safety agencies to bolster emergency preparedness and inter-agency cooperation.
Using this location to train with rebreathers, means FDNY members are better “prepared to respond to and mitigate these life-threatening emergencies,” said John M. Esposito, chief of special operations at FDNY. “We all know that when we train together, we will work better together during real emergencies.”