Members of the Hawaii National Guard CERF-P Search and Extraction Team Raises up Peers in the Philippines.

Posted on Apr 16, 2013 in In The News, Video

Hawaii Army National Guard’s search and extraction experts return to Subic Bay to help their Philippine counter parts prepare for and participate in Balikatan 2013.

During two separate engagements since late 2012, the Hawaii National Guard’s rescue experts have groomed teams of rescue professionals in preparation for Balikatan 2013.  Now the guardsmen working with the Hawaii State Partnership Program are aiding their peers in a demonstration of the developing capabilities of the Philippine rescuers for this year’s joint exercise Balikatan across the Philippines.

The Guardsmen, members of Hawaii’s CERF-P search and extraction team are a close knit group and have spent many hours each a year maintaining their proficiency. Many of those hours are spent working hand-in-hand with Hawaii’s first responders, and developing the skills of the traditional guardsmen in their cadre. This year the team completed their certification during their EX-EVAL in February of 2013. Now they’ve  returned to Subic Bay to share from their experience and to help the Philippines rescue corps demonstrate their capabilities. Each Hawaii expert now teams up with a Philippine counterpart to review rescue techniques, a camaraderie has developed over the past two exchanges. The growth in knowledge and skill through this partnership is evident.

They have improved 100% considering they came from a background with little rescue knowledge. You can tell they are learning when they come up with their own way to tie the knots. We show them one way but they invent a new way to tie the same knot. They have grown a lot. Said Staff Sgt. Cory Ito of the Hawaii National Guard CERF-P Search and Extraction Team.

Balikatan means “shoulder-to-shoulder,” and characterizes the spirit of this bilateral Philippines-U.S. exercise. The Armed Forces of the Philippines and US military have a longstanding relationship that has contributed to regional security and stability, and is deeply rooted in cooperation. The exchanges that take place during Balikatan 2013 increases the regional militaries’ ability to respond quickly and work together efficiently to provide relief and assistance in the event of natural disasters or other crises that threaten public safety and health.

This year the Hawaii Guardsmen, walked the rescuers from the Philippine Armed Forces, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, and the Philippine Red Cross though a series of events that focused on rope rescue, structure marking, collapsed structure shoring, lifting, hauling, breaching, and patient extraction. The last day of the exchange before a two day field training exercise was spent reviewing swift water rescue techniques in the classroom, and participating in a hands on water rescue exchange.

During the two day field training exercise the rescuers from the Philippine Military, the Philippine Red Cross, and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority were joined by Volunteers from Santa Rita, near Olongapo City. They where provided scenarios to test their knowledge and skills in the rescue techniques they reviewed with the Hawaii guardsmen. The guardsmen stepped back during the exercise to assess the progress the Philippine rescuers have made.

The successful exchange helped the Philippine rescuers prove their readiness, and show their american peers just how much they have learned.