NAVY ANNEX STUMP NECK, Md. --
Slithering through damp and slippery tunnels here, Marines and sailors with the Technical Rescue Platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, II Marine Expeditionary Force, put their confined space rescue skills to use during a training operation April 8-10. In the midst of the humid, cramped tunnel filled with piles of rubble and power tools, the constant sounds of rescue workers and power tools fill the air, as they work diligently to rescue victims trapped in a simulated terrorist attack.
“Hey!,” one Marine yells. “Send up the drill.”
Sgt. Joe L. Martinez, a team leader and part of the Technical Rescue Platoon, drills through a pile of concrete, which is obstructing his way to a simulated casualty.
Marines and sailors with the Technical Rescue Platoon exercised five disciplines during the training to help sharpen their life-saving skills. Responders with the platoon are trained in confined space, rope, trench, vehicle extrication, and collapsed structure rescue. In addition to this knowledge, Marines must also be able to demonstrate these disciplines in a contaminated environment, while wearing their bulky personal protective equipment.
Martinez, who is a new member to the technical rescue platoon, joined with no formal military occupational training other Marines in the crash fire rescue MOS go through to be a technical rescue technician.
Martinez, once a mortarman in the Marine infantry, said his experience at CBIRF has given him a chance to experience a different side of the Marine Corps.
“It’s something I don’t get to experience in the infantry, so it’s good training for me,” said Martinez.
He has spent most of his career in the infantry, but at CBIRF, Martinez has spent the majority his time learning technical rescue techniques and how a decontamination line should be run in a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive incident. While most training operations are a chance for troops to refine their skills, for Martinez, a new member to the platoon, this training was a chance for him to get to know his peers and learn what it takes to be a part of this unit.
“He’s stood in as a team leader, and he’s done everything the rest of the Marines here are doing. Depending on what they encounter on the operation, they basically use one of the five disciplines to rescue casualties,” said Gunnery Sgt. Mickey Davis, staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge, Technical Rescue Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company.
Most infantrymen’s mindsets are focused on winning wars, and while CBIRF typically doesn’t deploy to combat zones, that didn’t affect Martinez and his motivation. His battleground became the contaminated areas CBIRF works to mitigate.
“After he exhausted himself (at the Decontamination Platoon) and learned everything he could learn, he wanted something more, and that’s why we sent him to (technical rescue platoon),” said Staff Sgt. James Marker, decontamination platoon commander, Company B. “I became too dependant on him, because everything I asked him to do would always get done. I fully expect him to be a strong leader in the technical rescue platoon, because that’s just who he is.”
During his time in the infantry, Martinez served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has been a part of two sides of the war on terrorism, both on the battlefields of Iraq and now helping to secure America’s safety here at home.
“In the infantry, it’s always go, go, go. We fight a lot, but here at CBIRF, we save lives,” Martinez said.
Infantrymen have a multifaceted roll in the wars America fights. From the onset of their careers, they learn the skills it takes to survive, and according to Martinez, his experience in the infantry has helped him assimilate in this platoon.
“Infantrymen are the jacks of all trades, we can do anything. We fix our own vehicles in the field, we get our own food and we do what we have to (do to win and come home alive). It’s the same with tech. rescue. We have to know a lot when we can go from breaching and breaking, to a rope rescue, to a trench rescue, to a confined space rescue, within an area of two feet,” Martinez said.
Good leaders don’t spend all of their time behind a desk. It’s best to fight the fight by fighting, he said.
“I like the work ethic, actually. This platoon is really good about not sitting around. They do a lot of training, like the training operation we’re doing now,” Martinez said.
Now, Martinez is working on his prerequisites, like the firefighter certification, in order to qualify for technical rescue technician.
As for the future, Martinez plans to transition into the civilian rescue occupational field.
Though Martinez is working on acquiring the certifications to be a technical rescue technician, he has been able to seamlessly assimilate into the platoon, because of the strong leader he is, said Marker.
The constant humming of the drill stopped to reveal a cry for help. “Hey!” Martinez yelled. “I’ve drilled through the concrete and found the victim. Get a corpsman down here!”