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Urban Search & Rescue Team Trains For Emergencies

February 21, 2006, 4:44 PM by Kelli Grant

Over the years, thousands of students learned important lessons in the old Lincoln Elementary School in Sioux Falls.

And before the building is torn down, one last group of people is getting an education they'll never forget.

Next week the old Lincoln grade school will be demolished. But Tuesday afternoon the Sioux Falls Urban Search and Rescue team, better known as USAR, went through the buildings bricks and clay tile, training to handle an emergency involving a collapsed building.

Jim Sideras with the SIoux Falls Fire Department said, "This can be anything from a building collapse from an explosion, tornado...the skills are the same that they can use a lot of different scenarios but we'd be looking at a tornado or building explosion."

It's been just over five years since a school in Plankinton exploded, killing two people. When the school collapsed many of these men responded. Thanks to training, they knew exactly how to handle the emergency.

Battalion Chief Bill Curry said, "What we're doing is being proactive and working with the building that was built roughly the same era, the only thing its a more controlled situation. It's not burning and there's no people that are injured."

In a real life emergency, Urban Search and Rescue Teams would use a camera, routing it through a hole in a wall, making sure they knew exactly what was on the other side. And they would install wall braces, making sure the unstable structure didn't come crumbling down.

Sideras said, "The key to having these USAR teams is when something happens this specialty training kicks in it's almost like a reflex."

It's a reflex these team members are working to perfect, and say Tuesday's training is as close to the real thing as they can get.

USAR teams train quarterly and will be training at Lincoln grade school all week.

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