Technical Rescue Team Coordinator: Lt. Robert Kluzek
The Palatine Fire Department Technical Rescue (also known as the Urban Search and Rescue) Team's mission is to provide for rescue or recovery of humans from situations requiring specially-trained personnel with appropriate equipment and special tactics and techniques. Some situations that may require a Technical Rescue response can incude confined space incidents, trench or excavation collapses, high- or low-angle rope rescues, structural collapses, or transportation or industrial accidents involving heavy vehicles or equipment beyond the scope of a typical fire company's capabilities. In addition, the Technical Rescue team can also assist other teams, such as the Dive Rescue team at a swiftwater incident. Our team functions as a combined team with the Palatine Rural Fire District, and as such responds to all appropriate incidents in the Rural District's jurisdiction.
There are 15 members of the team. Each member has received extensive training in the various disciplines of technical rescue. Members are expected to attain both Operations and Technician level certifications through the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal in Rope Operations, Vertical Rescue and Rope Technician, Confined Space Rescue Operations and Technician, Trench Operations and Technician, Vehicle & Machinery Operations and Technician, and Structural Collapse Operations and Technician. The majority of these certification courses are 40 hours in duration. Many of our members go on to further courses in various specialties, including heavy rigging, advanced structural collapse, bus rescue, and swiftwater rescue, to name a few. Of course, maintaining such a high level of capability requires regular continuing training. Members attend in-house team training and MABAS team training at least monthly, as well as participating in department drills in which their skills are put to use. Members of the team also attend numerous conferences and continuing education classes to keep up with the latest techniques in use in the field.
Our team functions as a part of the MABAS Division 1 Technical Rescue Team, comprised of teams from throughout the Division. As these incidents are often of long duration and are extremely manpower-intensive, it is imperative to have a pool of trained personnel ready to respond to incidents anywhere in the region. In addition, large-scale incidents from tornadoes, flooding, earthquakes, winter storms, explosions, terrorism and so on can require the use of numerous teams to respond. Through MABAS, assets from throughout the state can respond to support a stricken region with trained and equipped personnel. To ensure that all teams in the state can function at appropriate levels, each recognized team goes through a validation at the Illinois Fire Service Institute, working with several other teams in demonstrating various skills in a continuous 36-hour operation.
If a higher level of response than even the Division teams is required, Illinois Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 1
(IL-TF1) is available. This team of over 200 members, divided into three platoons, is patterned after the FEMA USAR
task forces and is capable of self-sustained operations for 10 days. Two members of Palatine's Technical Rescue Team are members of the state Task Force.