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South Bend Fire Dept. teams up with I&M for underground exercises

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -

The South Bend Fire Department’s Tactical Rescue Team and I&M joined efforts Tuesday morning in downtown South Bend to perform a rescue and recovery mission… underground.

“We have several hundred underground manholes and vaults throughout South Bend. We want to be prepared in case there were ever a mishap in one of those,” said Tracy Warner, the I&M Communications Public Education Officer.

Captain Gerard Ellis with South Bend Fire says the difference in this drill: it was to be performed like a real rescue and recovery.

“Call came in so you noticed the first engine company arrived on scene, then they let dispatch know and then the T.A.C.T. Team gets activated and they arrived,” said Captain Gerard Ellis.

Tracy Warner with I&M says this will help firefighters become familiar with responding to the small space I&M workers are in almost every day.

“We rely on the first responders Such as the South Bend Fire Department to come to our assistance if we need and it’s really important for them to know essentially what they’re walking into. What’s in these facilities? What’s in the manhole and the vault,” said Warner.

Ellis says it’s critical to know these types of exercises.

“Confined space has its dangers in itself, this one is extremely dangerous because of all the high voltage that’s running inside the vault or in the manhole. It’s kind of a high-risk, low-frequency type of a call,” said Ellis.

He says all three tactical response teams will practice until they get it down.

“You know, I mean this is a real life scenario. Other than somebody being injured, it doesn’t get any more real than this,” said Ellis.

Those exercises will continue through Thursday morning ending with a total of 36 firefighters participating so that all shifts can perform those rescue and recoveries.

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