NAVAL SUPPORT FACILITY INDIAN HEAD, Md. --
Surrounded by cries for help, trapped under piles of rubble and debris, the victims realize they have just survived a terrorist attack. The look of shock in their eyes is dampened by the pain that rushes through their pinned bodies. Suddenly, a piece of rubble shifts, a flash of light shines into the cramped collapsed space, and a voice of hope fills their ears. “I’m here to help!”
The voice is that of the only sailor trained to be a technical rescue technician at Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, II Marine Expeditionary Force.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Chris Dare, a hospital corpsman assigned to Headquarters and Service Company, CBIRF, is one of few sailors in the Navy trained to be a rescue technician and respond to scenarios like this.
“He has seamlessly integrated into the Technical Rescue Platoon at CBIRF, and has become the most technically proficient sailor in the rescue field currently at CBIRF,” said Staff Sgt. Dexter Williford, Dare’s co-worker and rescue technician, Headquarters and Service Company.
CBIRF is home to a group of Marines trained for technical rescues in a contaminated environment. To master the skills required for the Technical Rescue Platoon, Dare had to show competence in the basics of rescue and knowledge in personal protective equipment, said Sgt. Ivan Trevino, rescue technician, Technical Rescue Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company.
“This is no small accomplishment,” he said. “Considering the fact to be a rescue technician, a Marine or sailor must demonstrate an understanding of the basic disciplines including rope rescue, vehicle extrication, collapsed structure and trench rescue and heavy lifting.”
Dare has taken on a Marine’s primary military occupational specialty, training in technical rescue as a hospital corpsman.
“As far as I’m concerned, he’s not just a rescue technician,” said Trevino. “He’s a rescue Marine in a Navy uniform.”
Dare took his cue partly from his father when deciding what branch of service he wanted to join.
“I always wanted to join the military,” he said. “I wanted to join the Marine Corps to follow in my father’s footsteps. But then, I knew I wanted to go into something dealing with medicine, and being a corpsman is the best of both worlds. I can help people, and I can work with Marines,” he said.
Dare completed training with the Rescue International Group and the College of Search and Rescue during 2007. The courses are rare training for a sailor, let alone a corpsman.
“The best thing about being stationed at CBIRF is all the unique medical training,” Dare said. “I will be very diverse in my medical knowledge. The technical rescue training will help me out in a lot of situations if I go back to an infantry unit or reconnaissance battalion.”
During Dare’s seven years of military service, the Marines have sent him to combat zones all over the Middle East and to bases around the United States.
Dare said he gained a wealth of medical knowledge and assisted in humanitarian aid during his deployment to Afghanistan, which pushed him to a different side of life in the military.
“In Afghanistan, we saw a lot of patients,” Dare said. “We went to different areas in northeastern Afghanistan, on the border of Pakistan, and provided medical treatment. We went to the local pharmacies and spent our money buying medicine, so it would help out the economy. Then we’d go hand out what we bought.”
Though Dare may be a corpsman, at times he had to do the work of a doctor.
“Doctors would come out from Bagram Air Base to Asadabad, the base I was at, to see what operations the staff were doing,” he said. “This kid was playing with a blasting cap, and he blew two of his fingers off. We had to put his hand back together. I was doing reconstructive surgery on the kid’s hand, and one of the doctors in the room asked where I went to medical school. I told him I was a Navy corpsman.”
Sgt. Jeff Sullivan, communications training noncommissioned officer, Headquarters and Service Company, was with Dare in Iraq, when they responded to another company of Marines and sailors hit by an improvised explosive device.
“After the smoke cleared, we pushed on,” Sullivan said. “That was a bad day for the battalion. We lost one of the Marines. Doc did what he was supposed to do. When we got to the scene, he helped out with casualties.”
Though Dare has been through many situations, he has risen to the challenge of being both one of the few corpsmen trained to be a technical rescue technician and a hospital corpsman.
Setting aside his medical bag, Dare reached through the rubble and smoke to grab the hands of the trapped victims. “Stay with me,” he yelled. “Help has arrived!”