Join Partners today!
Visit our Parent Organization, Partners of the Americas
Chilean Firefighters Training Visit to Washington a Success

Chilean firefighters Luis Carrasco, Luis Sandoval and Leonardo Sandoval (l to r) at Pierce County heavy rescue training facility in April

Three Chilean firefighter trainers spent two weeks in western Washington earlier this year (March 28-April 11), in a program designed to provide instruction in post-disaster search and rescue techniques and hazardous materials response.

The visitors included Leonardo Sandoval, Luis Sandoval and Luis Carrasco. Leonardo and Luis Sandoval are Chilean Partners and members of the Environment and Emergency Preparedness Committee. Luis Carrasco represented the Chilean National Firefighters Academy. They came as part of the Washington/Chile Partners’ long-term exchange program in HazMat spill response and Incident Command Systems training.

During their first week in Washington, the three Chilean visitors participated in a 50-hour Rescue Systems 1 course offered by the Pierce County Emergency Management Department. Partners member Rudy Alvarado arranged full tuition scholarships for them. Ninety percent of the course was field practice in the following areas:
  1. Introduction to urban search and rescue
  2. Organization at the rescue site
  3. Incident command
  4. Security
  5. Search techniques
  6. Basic ropes and knots;
  7. Shoring up structures in emergencies
  8. Lifting heavy objects.

The Chilean firefighters received course certificates "con mucho amor propio y fuerza interna por sobre la preparación física de la cual carecíamos." They feel that the course should be taught in Chile since the country is predisposed to earthquakes and natural catastrophes that require both rapid response and sufficient autonomy while external help is on the way.

They hope that the response to their report on the training in Washington will be approval of an Urban Rescue course for Chilean firefighters and a schedule for its implementation. They plan to use the training materials supplied during the Washington course in Spanish translation, which is currently available. They also want to include the participation of Washington state instructors.

After the course, the Chilean trainers participated with Olympia and Redmond firefighters in all their usual shift activities, "apreciando la utilización del tiempo, el aprendizaje continuo y la camaradería y apertura que es un nexo común entre todos los bomberos del mundo." They also visited the Department of Ecology’s Spill Operations Section to see the equipment and type of work they carry out to respond to dangerous materials incidents. Leonardo wrote: "We felt that the days spent in various localities of the state and the interchange with our hosts, especially with emergency response professionals, was extremely enriching and useful in a practical sense for our work in a sensitive area, where a timely and efficient response can save lives and minimize damage to property and the environment."

The firefighters’ airfare was paid for by the Chilean Firefighter Academy, and Partners provided a small grant of $1,100 from the Emergency Preparedness Program, which is funded through U.S. AID. Washington home hosts were Partners Bill Zachmann and Rudy Alvarado.

Home  |  Projects  |  Events  |  Washington Chapter  |  Chilean Chapter

Photo Credits

Website by:
RunPedal Design