The NHRFR serves Union City, North Bergen, West New York, Guttenberg and Weehawken.
The critical response units all got together to pool their talents and expertise, especially since the NHRFR has instituted its own high-angle rescue unit within the last six months. The NHRFR had to test out their training and equipment to see if they could do the job under the duress of an emergency situation.
It also helped to have the North Hudson's premier emergency medical team on hand to coordinate the medical efforts.
Last month, Palisades Medical Center contacted the MUA and the NHRFR requesting their participation in an external disaster drill. Palisades Medical Center, in order to assure optimum preparedness and to best serve the community, conducts disaster drills on an ongoing basis.
"The participation of the MUA and NHRFR assures a collaborative response in the event of a true hazardous materials event or disaster," said Palisades Medical Center spokesman Eurice Rojas. "Repeated drills assure smooth functioning in the event of such a disaster."
The drills included a wide range of scenarios for the rescue service officers and emergency medical personnel. They included the rescuing of a man trapped in a confined space below ground where hazardous chemicals might be present; the treatment of several chemical burn victims; and rescuing a man who was apparently having a heart attack while working on a high-rise platform.
"We read books, we doing the training, but drills like these allow us to look at whether or not we are training properly," said NHRFR Battalion Chief Frank Montagne, who has been tabbed to serve as the first rescue coordinator for the new high angle rescue team. "Something can look good on paper, but we are always asking, 'Does it work in practice?'"
The disaster drill also allowed the NHRFR's new rescue unit to conduct a low-level decontamination procedure and carry out victim triage using the facilities on board the NHRFR's new mobile recuperation vehicle.
Several members of the Weehawken Volunteer First Aid Squad aided in the evaluation and transport of the mock victims.
Once the pretend-injured victims, all of whom MUA personnel, were placed in the medical triage, they were moved from the MUA grounds to Palisades Medical Center for simulated treatment by emergency room staff to allow the hospital to test its response capacity to a local external emergency and complete the drill.
Robert Fischer, the executive director of the North Bergen MUA, was more than happy to be the host of the disaster simulations.
"The MUA safety program prepares our workers for potential hazards in the workplace, but this drill familiarizes the regional fire department and the local hospital with the
locations and types of accidents that could potentially occur within our facilities," Fischer said. "We were grateful for the community cooperation that allows these types of needed rehearsals take place."
In the coming months, NHRFR's new rescue team plans to conduct additional challenging drills, including a high-angle rescue simulation that will require officers to rappel off the cliffs of the Palisades in Weehawken or West New York.
The entire day was then evaluated by the commanding officers, to see that everything was done property and within the established guidelines.
"Our initial on-site evaluation of this drill was positive, but we are always looking for ways to improve," Montagne said. "The goal is to get a step better every time, to make sure that everyone is a lot safer."