New Technology to the Rescue

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Whether there are fires, explosions or car crashes, mock disaster drills are nothing new for various Rockford emergency agencies.

This Saturday a mock plane crash and fire rescue did accomplish something entirely new. Rescue agencies brought all their needed tools to this mock disaster drill, but what they weren't holding were any wires as this mission was wireless for the first time.

It's not your ordinary drill to save a cat in a tree. A plane has crashed and dozens are critically hurt. The challenge local fire departments have is to shoot down the flames and save lives.

Rockford Fire Department Captain Steven Bishop says, "It's a good test for all the agencies in there and it was a good test for our system and a good test for our personnel."

But this crash exercise was an even harder test. For the first time, rock river valley agencies completed the drill with wireless technologies. A wireless network is set up connecting emergency responders from all across the stateline. They have instant access to video, audio and data information in these types of emergencies. Amidst the crash chaos, the future of rescue technology was busy at work.

Bishop says, "You have to have a good communication system in place. Today we had great communications. We had hand radio amateurs and radio operators helping us. We had all sectors helping us."

Such communication was vital for EMTs who relied on the technology to treat the most critical patients. After getting through the emergency exercise even longtime firefighters feel better equipped with their rescue abilities and the technology to carry it out.

The Federal Aviation Administration requires that commercial airports have a full-scale emergency exercise once every three years. For the Greater Rockford Airport at least six airport trained firefighters are on duty every day.