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Jefferson County first responders discuss rescue plan in wake of Miami collapse

Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 4:56 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 25, 2021 at 5:49 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - First responders in Kentucky are among those watching rescue workers search through rubble near Miami after a deadly building collapse.

While they hope to never encounter that situation, a plan is in place if something similar were to happen where they live.

Tucked away in Okolona, a trailer reads ‘Jefferson County Fire Special Operations’.

Inside it are tools that team uses to face some of the most challenging disasters, including situations requiring rope, water, trench and confined space skills.

“Most of the time, for us, its mostly rope or confirmed space,” Captain Scott Underwood said. “We’ve done a little bit of trench here and there throughout the county.”

The Special Ops team trains monthly to face different challenges it'd be called to respond to.
The Special Ops team trains monthly to face different challenges it'd be called to respond to.(WAVE 3 News)

The Special Ops unit is also the group that’d be called in to help if a structural collapse, like what happened near Miami this week, were to happen in Jefferson County.

“We’ve never really had a significant structural collapse through here in my time,” Underwood said. “But, around here, our team has responded to hurricane disasters and tornado disasters.”

Underwood adds just because a collapse hasn’t happened recently, doesn’t mean his team isn’t preparing for one.

That includes planning out how the response would work and training to carry it out.

Underwood said that happens monthly. The unit did a simulation recently that mimicked a parking garage collapse.

He adds what first responders in Florida are up against right now is extremely difficult.

“Catastrophic,” he said. “Unless you’re actually a part of it, it would be hard to explain. It would be a very challenging situation because, if you look at the building, there’s a lot of pieces and debris still hanging. So, you’ve got overheard hazards that could still come down, a secondary collapse within the rubble pile or within the actual main building that’s still standing.”

The groups monthly training also includes other situations it’d be tasked with responding to.

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