After several years of receiving federal dollars to buy urban search-and-rescue equipment for the region, money is now available to train the firefighters to use it.
Region 1 of the state, made up of 18 northwest Ohio counties, received a $60,117 grant for equipment and structural collapse training. Of that amount, $25,500 is dedicated to training.
Lucas County commissioners approved the state homeland security grant yesterday. The money adds to the grants given to local communities over the past few years to help build urban search-and-rescue teams in each of the state's eight regions.
"I'm at the point where we've bought all the equipment, but what we're missing now is the 90-member team," Toledo Fire Capt. Tom Jaksetic said.
Firefighters from throughout the 18 counties will form the team. To date, only 23 firefighters have been trained in urban search and rescue, which is a four-day course.
The holdup has been receiving the training money needed for things such as creating collapsed structures, Captain Jaksetic said. The structures are made up of chunks of concrete and wood and will be built at the fire department's training facility on Airport Highway. The training also uses dilapidated buildings, like an old school, to help train responders to brace structures while searching for survivors.
The training, which used to be done out-of-state, is now taught by those like Captain Jaksetic, who have taken courses to train urban search and rescue. Yesterday, he was in the Cleveland area training members of Region 2 how to handle a building collapse caused by such incidents as a terrorist act or a heavy snowfall.
Deputy Chief Greg Locher said the goal is to have a team in place to respond to collapsed structures within 30 minutes. If help is needed after 12 hours, other teams throughout the state would respond.
This is a significant jump on the time it would take for a federal team to mobilize, he added.
According to the local Emergency Management Agency, the funds will be reimbursed through the Department of Homeland Security once they are spent. Region 1 includes counties from the Indiana state line to Erie County, south through Hancock County to Van Wert County, and north to the Michigan state line.