On Monday January 7, Georgia Task Force 2 began its week long training that will serve as the last training for the new Georgia Search and Rescue recruit class. Thirty eight members have completed more than 300 hours of training since January 2018. Georgia Search and Rescue covers the southwest region of Georgia, including parts of Alabama and Florida.
The last training class is usually held in October, but because GSAR had to deploy for Hurricane Michael, it was postponed to January 2019. During this training, the recruit class is taught four disciplines: rope rescue, confined space, trench rescue, and structural collapse. To ensure proficiency on skills, Task Force 2 holds four 8-hour refreshers and at least one drill every year, along with any drills done with local businesses.
“When we train together, we become a more unified team. If you learn something one day, then try to do it six years later, you’re not going to remember it. So we try to stay on top of our skills,” said Jeff Thibodeau, Special Operations Captain.
After completion of the class, on Saturday, January 12, the thirty eight new members will graduate. They will add to the team of existing GSAR members to bring the team total to 93 people, possibly the second largest team in the state.
“The biggest advantage of having Georgia Search and Rescue Task Force 2 here is we have $1.3 million worth of equipment in a vehicle that’s housed in Valdosta and it’s comprised of 11 different fire departments within the southwest region of Georgia,” said Thibodeau. “It is a valuable resource that can be used locally.”
For more information about the Georgia Search and Rescue team or if you have any questions, call the City of Valdosta Fire Department at 229-333-1835.