PHILLIPINE SEA (Sept. 11, 2017)
— Today there are people applying for driver’s licenses that were born after the World Trade Center fell. 16 years later, the Sailors of the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) took time out of their day to commemorate the day that will never be forgotten.
“We wanted to simulate what a firefighter or first responder might have gone through that day,” said Chief Hospital Corpsman (select) Richard Spees, one of the organizers of the event. “We had to adjust to the ship environment, but we knew we could assemble a course that would help us understand the day that these men and women lived 16 years ago.”
Six teams of four Sailors assembled to run a course that started with a circuit based workout in the gym, before getting “the call.” The competitors dropped everything to run two laps of the mission bay of the ship before dressing out in firefighting ensemble (FFE).
“With the air so hot, and having everything move so fast, the whole event was a lot harder than I expected,” said Chief Boatswain’s Mate William Garcia, a participant in the event. “I have a lot of respect for the first responders who do this.”
Clad in FFE, the Sailors ran to the aft of the mission bay, where the 11-meter rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) was a simulated casualty. Covered in smoke from a nearby fog machine and siren blaring in their ears, the heavily laden participants climbed a ladder to recover a dummy from the craft.
“Rescue Randy,” a 180-pound dummy, then had to be loaded onto a stretcher, and carried to the front of the mission bay, past a barricade.
“Every participant I talked to after said they were exhausted,” said Spees. “To imagine these firefighters and first responders did that for hours is just unfathomable.”
“This competition was important because it accomplishes a few things,” said Geib. “Not only does it serve as a memorial for 9/11, and help us understand the struggles of the first responders, but it also gives us a chance to test our own skills. Things can go bad really quickly on a ship, and we need to be ready.”
Working in teams of four gave the participants a team-building opportunity. Everyone needed to help out for the team to succeed.
“Not just one person can respond in a situation like these,” said Chief Fire Controlman (select) Jonathan Stoffel, another key organizer, “everyone has to work together.”