Published On: Mon, Aug 6th, 2018

CERFP conducts SAR simulations using ropes with the VKC

VKCWILLEMSTAD - The Florida Army National Guard travelled to Curaçao to work with the Vrijwilligers Korps Curaçao (VKC), the volunteer corps for five days on search and rescue (SAR) and medical response tactics with a special emphasis on rope-dependent SAR, July 31, 2018.

Sgt. Andrew Ware, with the Florida National Guard’s CERFP, teaches members of the VKC how to make specific knots related to repelling and rescue operations. Step-by-step, Ware went over a butterfly knot, a double overhand knot, and a figure-eight knot. Each member of the VKC completed the knots with the help of the CERFP Soldiers.

“It’s important to know the knots in search and rescue,” said Ware. “Knots are a fundamental basic that rescuers need to know before they even think about repelling or rescue operations in difficult terrain or unstable buildings.”

Sonja Ferreira, a 50-year resident of a five-story, unfinished building in the heart of Willemstad, Curaçao, gave the CERFP and VKC permission to use her home for repelling and rescue operations using ropes.

“The VKC is very active in the community,” said Ferreira. “I am happy to help them with their needs because they are always there when you need them.”

Sgt. 1st Class Robby E. Creech with the Florida National Guard’s CERFP, donned a harness and connected a belay line to show the VKC that with the proper equipment you can repel from the highest buildings or mountains. Creech demonstrated repelling from the 5th floor of the home while the members of the VKC looked on from the ground.

Creech set the stage for members of the VKC and instilled the confidence needed to put on the harness, connect the belay line and help one another complete the task.

One by one, each member of the VKC hooked up and were pulled up from the ground and lowered back down. Each member completed the initial equipment familiarization before repelling. By the end of the training, the VKC were performing all tasks together as a unit, with the CERFP team simply observing.

“I used to be afraid of heights,” said Mirella Calisteau, VKC rescue platoon member and ambulance nurse. “Now I trust my equipment and my team. I love this.”

The VKC are now more familiar with their rescue equipment and how to use it. They want to continue the partnership with the FLANG in the future and many have stated they hope the CERFP team will return.

“Everyone is a professional. They know exactly what they’re doing,” said Maj. Roger Gibbes, commander of the VKC. “We want to have the [CERFP] return twice a year.”

Photo by Spc. Leia Tascarini. Sonja Ferreira (left), a 50-year resident of Willemstad, Curaçao, and homeowner of the repel location poses for a photo with Capt. Signalda Olario, head of division logistics. Members from the FLARNG arrived in Curacao to support an information exchange with the VKC to focus on best practices on search and rescue (SAR) and medical response tactics, July 31, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Leia Tascarini)

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