05 Mar 2021

Urban Search and Rescue Training Exercise: A Haunted House Experience

Urban Search and Rescue Training Exercise: A Haunted House Experience

05 Mar 2021 - Staff

Georgia State Defense Force photo by Pvt. Lauren Boyle-Estheimer

Article By Pvt. Lauren Boyle-Estheimer

Georgia State Defense Force (GSDF) Soldiers from the 1st Brigade’s 2nd Battalion recently participated in an urban search and rescue (USAR) training at a local haunted house that—much like real life—brought forth the unexpected.

“Searching a haunted house was a very unique scenario,” 1st Sgt. Jay Tavares explained. “When we get deployed to a real-world mission, we never know exactly what we’re going to run into, and this experience simulated that.”

Training Day

The training was held on February 20, 2021. The day began in Acworth, Ga. with a classroom lecture on the foundations of USAR, and overall search and rescue best practices.

Soldiers then relocated to the Folklore Haunted House in Acworth, where they participated in a simulated exercise scenario. Soldiers worked in teams to execute their mission of physically searching for missing persons and rescuing entrapped and injured survivors inside an area impacted by a disaster event. During the exercise, Soldiers also trained on structural damage assessments while communicating situational awareness with the tactical operations center.

The individual and collective mission essential tasks in which Soldiers were trained included: search and rescue, disaster relief support, law enforcement assistance, and communications.

“It was a good day training focusing on urban search and rescue,” 1st Sgt. Tavares said. “We talk a lot about wilderness search and rescue and we do a lot of that type of training, but USAR is equally important.”

Heart and Soul

This hands-on exercise allowed Soldiers to apply the techniques they learned in the classroom to a practical situation.

“I’m very proud of the 2/1. The exercise today was really an opportunity for Soldiers to learn the skills they’ve been training on over and over again and put them into action. This kind of thing is the heart and soul of our Battalion,” said Maj. James LeMay, Commander of the 1st Brigade’s 2nd Battalion.

For one Soldier, this exercise was the first of others to come.

“I think this was a beneficial exercise that had a practical application to the training we received this morning,” said Pvt. Cody Areno, a new GSDF Soldier who was participating in his first drill with the 2nd Battalion. “I’ve learned a lot of things today, and I’m looking forward to expanding that horizon, getting more involved, and building my skill set to better assist my fellow GSDF Soldiers and the citizens of Georgia.”

The 1st Brigade’s 2nd Battalion thanks the Acworth Police Department and the Folklore Haunted House for their contributions to this training exercise.

Spc. Christopher Thaiss reads a training narrative during the simulated search of an interior room. Props—a skeleton and cobwebs—bring character to the Folklore Haunted House, a unique site for this GSDF training exercise held in Acworth, Ga., February 20, 2021.
Georgia State Defense Force photo by Pvt. Lauren Boyle-Estheimer