Mpls. Fire talks rescue training after Minnehaha Academy blast

Urban Rescue Team at Minnehaha Academy

MINNEAPOLIS - Wednesday marks one week since the Minnehaha Academy explosion and collapse that killed two staff members.

Minneapolis firefighters at Station 8 were clearing caves in St. Paul when the call came in.

"We were about as far back in the caves as you can get when the St. Paul guys said, 'Hey, you got a collapse in Minneapolis. You need to go,'" said Travis Johansen, a Minneapolis firefighter.

Fire Station 8 is a technical rescue station which consists of Engine 8 and Rescue 1.

"Even though this was a structural collapse, a building collapse, obviously this station focuses a lot on technical rescue with ropes and everything," said Minneapolis firefighter Nikolaus Curley. "We train almost every single day on ropes training. Whether it's just setting up simple systems, to figuring out what gear we need and running through scenarios."

They work closely with Minnesota Task Force 1. The task force is an urban search and rescue team made up of 230 members who are firefighters, paramedics, physicians and police officers.

Just two months ago, some of the task force members were getting specialized training to respond to situations like the Minnehaha Academy explosion.

RELATED: Minnesota rescuers train to save lives during disasters

"Some of that training that we have had through the task force kind of prepares you for that," Capt. Sean Olson said.

Olson has been a part of Minnesota Task Force 1 since 2005. According to Olson, he and his team undergo technical rescue training every quarter. 

"What we do is we take some of the training that we have through the task force and we actually do that here in our technical rescue station... we do cross-training between the two rigs so that we can respond as a rescue group," Capt. Olson said.

Most of the firefighters at Station 8 have a majority of the training that's required to be on the task force. That cross-training helped them while responding to Minnehaha Academy.

"It was pretty seamless. Everybody was speaking the same language, everybody knew what jobs needed to be done," said Travis Johansen, a Minneapolis firefighter. "Everybody got on the same page pretty quick which is pretty impressive when you're considering there' are two or three different agencies coming in to do the same task, working together."

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