Category Archives: Training

Operation Fulford Fall – Day 2

1000 feet above the valley floor

The view at 1,000 feet above the valley floor is nothing short of breathtaking.

The second day scenario was a report of a missing hiker/climber whose emergency locator beacon was activated overnight.  The team had coordinates from the beacon and had a good idea of where to find the subject – about 1000 feet above the floor of the valley.  The incident commander decided to hike up with the team to have a better opportunity to manage the rescue.

Cave Entrance

A 50 foot high, 120 foot wide cave entrance greeted the team.

The team was able to approach the coordinates from below, only to be stopped by a 70 foot cliff with a gaping cave entrance, 50 feet tall by about 120 feet wide.  They guessed that the subject was up above and sent a small team up to look at what was at the top of the cliff.  The rescuers were able to climb up and located the subject, who was hypothermic from spending the night above 10,000 feet without proper equipment.

Cliff Problem

The cliff above the cave created a significant logistical problem.

Rope Bag

O-41, first one up the cliff, anchors a rope and throws down a rope bag to help other team members up.

Rigging the Cliff

O-35 and O-41 rig the cliff for access by the rest of the team.

Team members rigged the cliff to get more rescuers and equipment up.  It was decided that rather than taking the subject down a steep cliff full of uncooperative brush, they would use the cave skylight to lower the subject before evacuating him off the mountain.

Making a Path

Left: O-35 studies the rope snagged on brush some 30 feet below him – and 20 feet off the ground.
Right: O-35 and O-41 fix the rope as O-1 watches.

The entire team climbed the cliff and while some members treated and packaged the subject, others rigged the skylight for the rescue.  The subject was successfully lowered.  The entire team chose to rappel down through the skylight, rather than fight their way down the cliff face.

Rigged and Ready

Left: The cliff face is rigged for rescuers to come up.
Right: The skylight at the mouth of the cave is also rigged, to lower the subject.

Going Down

O-41 serves as the litter attendant, taking the subject down the skylight in a sked.

Six Dogs

Six dogs wait for their owners to return at the mouth of the cave. Someone had to guard all the gear left behind.

Operation Fulford Fall – Day 1

Operation Fulford Fall

Operation Fulford Fall

For our annual weekend wilderness training, the team gathered on the edge of Holy Cross Wilderness to run some training simulations.

The training scenario on the first day was locating a fisherman reported missing in the mountains.  The team set up an incident command post at the campground and deployed two hasty teams.  One team was sent to check the local main trails and the perimeter of the lake while the other team walked the cliff edge overlooking the creek below to see if anything would spark their interest.  Not finding anything significant, Hasty 1 hiked the stream of the creek going up while Hasty 2 went downstream, negotiating cliff edge in an attempt to locate the subject.

Holy Cross Wilderness

The terrain was absolutely beautiful and very much overgrown, making any search attempt difficult at best.

Team Briefing

Team gathers at the initial planning point to brief before deploying.

Hasty 2 made the find with the subject being creek side, about 100 feet down a ravine.  He was unconscious from a rock fall with bruising at the temple.  While the subject was being treated, all fielded members regrouped at the top of the cliff and rigged a litter for rescue.  A litter was lowered and the subject was brought up successfully.

Rescue from the Ravine

Left: O-38 and O-40 make a successful find of the unconscious, hypothermic subject.
Center: O-1 joins O-40 to treat and prepare the subject for transport.
Right: O-35 rappels down with a litter and gear for the subject.

Rescue Lines

Left: Litter is rigged for rescue. White mainline has the litter (orange rope) and patient safety (orange webbing) clipped into it. The green line will be connected to the litter separately as the belay line.
Center: O-38 checks the lines before the litter is pulled up.
Right: O-1 will serve as litter attendant to help get the subject past any obstacles.

Wilderness First Aid

Whether spending time in the backcountry is your passion or your profession, you should never have to ask, “What do I do now?” In this fast-paced and hands-on course, you will learn how to prepare for the unexpected.

The NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute’s (WMI) curriculum includes many advanced topics that other programs leave out such as dislocation reduction and epinephrine administration. In just two days, you will have the knowledge, skills and ability to make sound decisions in emergency situations.

This course is ideal for trip leaders, camp staff, outdoor enthusiasts and individuals in remote locations. WMI’s course is pre-approved by such organizations as the American Camping Association, the United States Forest Service and other government agencies. This course does not include CPR.

Wilderness First Aid 2015-11-14

Wilderness First Aid Class — November 14-15, 2015.

This training is open to the public.

Operation Deli Wrap

Operation Deli Wrap

Operation Deli Wrap

An annual event for OMEGA is a summer camping outing to practice rescue skills. Members of the team spend 48 hours in a remote area of Colorado sharpening their outdoor skills and practicing rescue skills.

This year’s trip was on the Western Slope. Participants used the first evening to set up camp in a remote area of the White River National Forest. The site selection was very deliberate, forcing the team to give basic survival greater consideration. The camp site was on a plateau, miles away from civilization. Bathroom use required digging a hole and covering up the deposit. Water was restricted to what was brought in. More water was available from a creek a mile away and a good three hundred feet down. It would need to be purified before it could be used.

Cobweb in Forest

It’s a dense forest with some monster cobwebs.

First thing in the morning of the second day, the team received a simulated callout for a missing hiker. A male in his 20s went hiking in the area the day before and had not returned as was expected. The reporting party was able to provide some directions to where the missing hiker was supposed to be. This required some orienteering skills on the part of the team in order to look for the subject. Along the way they encountered various clues, mostly in the form of discarded items, helping them rebuild the hiker’s path.

Search Dog

“I know he’s out there somewhere…”

Mantracking

Searching for clues on the top of the plateau.

The hiker was located on the far end of the plateau in a cave entrance pit, which he fell into. He was unconscious with possible spinal injuries and hypothermic. Several members of the team entered the pit to stabilize and package the hiker for transport. The rest of the team rigged a haul system above the pit to get the hiker out.

Access - Stabilize - Tranport

Access – Stabilize – Transport

A little evening caving

A little evening caving

The exercise relied on the participants to use a variety of skills to successfully locate and extract the patient and a little brawn to get him off the plateau to a waiting vehicle.

The evening activity was exploring caves in the area – a little recreation and developing navigation skills on the surface and contortion skills underground.

Sunday morning was a time to break camp and get ready to leave the wilderness. Several members went on a hike to enjoy nature’s beauty. Mission accomplished.

Cattle Drive

Heading out, the team was caught in a cattle drive.

Earthquakes

We live in a world susceptible to disasters.  Hollywood often capitalizes on the cinematic aspect of disasters, but the reality is far from what we get to see on the silver screen.

Dwayne Johnson, star of the recently released movie San Andreas, starred in a public service announcement to talk about the reality of earthquakes.

View the clip and visit http://ready.gov/earthquake/ to learn about this danger.

Operation Rumble in the Rockies

Are you coming to Operation Rumble in the Rockies on April 11 at the Metro Fire Training Center?

OMEGA

OMEGA

Operation Rumble in the Rockies

Operation Rumble in the Rockies

 *** Exercise Message Only ***

 At 8:35 AM on the 11th of April, 2015, a strong earthquake centered near Golden rocked Colorado. The quake was centered at the southern tip of the Golden Fault Line and registered at 6.2 on the Richter Scale. It was felt as far away as Casper, WY and Grand Junction.

Roads west of Denver are reported to be impassable. Multiple rock slides have closed access to the mountain communities west of the Front Range. There are reports of cracking on the face of the Mt. Elbert Forebay Dam. Extensive structural damage is being reported up and down the Colorado Front Range with media reporting that no large structure has gone undamaged.

The Denver metropolitan area is experiencing rolling power outages, loss of phone and cellular service, water and gas main breaks. Emergency services are focusing their efforts on major structural damage and high density areas of the metroplex.

In the wake of the earthquake there is an unknown number of casualties and known fatalities can be identified almost immediately. Police, fire and EMS are unable to respond to the scope of the disaster. Volunteer units are some of the earliest response available.

 *** Exercise Message Only ***

Operation Rumble in the Rockies

Operation Rumble in the Rockies

2015 Moulage Class

OMEGA will be hosting a moulage class at Littleton High School on Saturday, January 10. The class will run 10 AM to 2 PM.

Just what is moulage? Moulage is used in simulations to help emergency responders better visualize injuries they may have to work with. Injuries range from cuts to bullet holes to shrapnel to amputations. And if the simulation calls for it, there might be room for the walking dead.

Working with simulated injuries helps responders learn what the injury looks like and develop a better understanding when it comes to treating the injury. It also helps desensitize the responder when it comes to dealing with the real thing because moulage helps set expectations and prepare the responder to working with injuries.

If you are interested in attending, please register for this class on our website at http://goo.gl/54a8x7. There is no cost for this training.

Moulage TrainingMoulage Training

MEPP Operations-Based Exercise Design and Evaluation

The second part of the Master Exercise Practitioner Program training series is the Operations-Based Exercise Design and Evaluation (E133) class, which was held three months after the first session. The course builds on the principles and concepts taught in the previous Discussion-Based Design and Evaluation class. Participants are challenged to acquire the advanced knowledge and skills necessary to design/develop, conduct and evaluate operations-based exercises, including drills and functional exercises. An emphasis is placed on advanced exercise skills needed to successfully complete complex exercise control/simulation tasks and activities. Participants must successfully master these activities during the conduct of the course through the use of proficiency demonstrations.

The class size had shrunk noticeably by the second week. The class was down to 15 or 16 students per group, having lost a handful of people for a variety of reasons. The instructors also warned that those who had not completed their homework needed to file for an extension to stay in the program. It turned out that a number of participants did not accomplish what was required for the class.

Operation Sticky Fish

Operation Sticky Fish saw five tanker cars of molasses derail into the Roaring River in Central City, Liberty County.

The focus of week two was to develop and execute an emergency operations center simulation, feeding outside information to an operations center staff and having them respond to the evolving situation. It’s almost a game where exercise designers story-tell a disaster and expect the audience to react accordingly. The deliverable for the exercise was capturing the results of the simulation and conducting an analysis of how the participants performed.

MEPP Operational Exercises

Policy group reviewing exercise materials.

This was a progressive building block expending the scope and complexity of the training and helping students understand how to compose, deliver and capture exercise information.

At the conclusion of class the participants were given an assignment to complete before the final session of MEPP – the design and delivery of an EOC based functional exercise in their home jurisdiction.

Operation Aquis Altum

In September of 2013 OMEGA was deployed by the Colorado Division of Emergency Management to support the evacuation operations for the flooding in Boulder and Larimer Counties. This was not our first time at a disaster, nor the first time working with a multitude of agencies to establish a foothold in a dangerous and dynamic environment, but this was our first time serving as an overhead incident management team and taking responsibility for hundreds of individuals being evacuated from their homes in the wake of a massive regional disaster.

Even though we had a solid understanding of what needed to be done and were given the flexibility, leeway and support by the State to perform our duties, not everything happened by the book and our own resources were stretched to the breaking limit.

Operation Aquis Altum

Operation Aquis Altum

On March 31, 2014, as homework for the Master Exercise Practitioner Program Discussion-Based Exercise Design and Evaluation class, OMEGA held an internal tabletop exercise, Operation Aquis Altum, to review policy, identify gaps and weaknesses and develop a better strategy and establish best practices for future deployments.

Our biggest problem in the flood deployment was that while well supplied both by the state and by Boulder County, our fielded team was left in the field without operational support or relief resources for a continuous 30 hour period. Due to the flooding and the remoteness of our assignment, our members were unable to stand down or go off line for required rest and rehabilitation and remained on station for an extensive period of time. The failure was in the rapidly evolving scope of the disaster, requiring that any new resources on scene be assigned to other areas of the incident and our own inability to bring in additional resources because we sincerely believed that relief was just hours away.

Members participating in the tabletop exercise determined that a future best practice needs to involve a two-prong approach. In an on-going process OMEGA’s Duty Officer will be responsible for full situational awareness of events in the state and is to deliver updates to potential mission coordinators and general membership, in effect leaning forward to be ready for a potential deployment.

The second element would be utilized in any team deployment, requiring OMEGA to stand up a “home team”, in effect a private Emergency Operations Center, to coordinate with the deploying agency and any other entities involved in the operation and managing all logistical, planning and administrative needs, including planning for future operational periods, serving as a Multi-Agency Coordination Center and allowing members in the field to focus on operations alone, knowing that all other elements of the deployment are being handled on their behalf.