CBS 2 Watches Task Force One In Action During Realistic Drills At Meadowlands

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Air rescues and pulling injured people from tons of rubble and knowing how to make life-saving decisions in a crisis takes practice.

That is what the brave men and women of New Jersey’s Search and Rescue Team are doing this week.

CBS 2’s Christine Sloan caught them in action Wednesday during a training exercise.

Task Force One member Chris Demais was seen coming down from a State Police chopper, responding to a building and garage collapse, where victims were being pulled out of concrete and metal rubble.

“We had a building collapse, a pancake-building collapse, and we had live people trapped,” Task Force One’s Eugene Walsh said.

As real as it looked, it was just part of a drill at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford. But it is the kind of disaster the men and women on the state’s Urban Search and Rescue Team rush to all the time.

In another drill, cars and even a bus were under twisted metal and crews had to cut around concrete so it wouldn’t fall on a victim.

“We used concrete-cutting straws, using jack hammers, and a hydraulic ramp to lift it up as well as an airbag,” the task force’s Scott Evans said.

“Griffin,” a highly trained German shepherd is a key part of the operation.

“He’s a very fast dog. He loves to search. It’s his favorite thing in the world,” one rescue team member said. “When we do training they can move pretty quickly from victim to victim. They go to the victim and they bark to let us know they’re there.”

Task Force One has responded to many disasters, including the World Trade Center attacks.

There are more than 200 members, all volunteers.

“Most of us on the team are firemen, that’s what we do for a living. We really enjoying helping other people,” Evans said.

The team was instrumental in rescuing 26 people in the Atlantic City garage collapse in 2003. But during Wednesday’s training, it was about learning from lessons so in the future more lives can be saved.

The training exercise was to continue for several days.

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