Before Little Rock's old Sears and Arkansas Specialty Orthopedics buildings are torn down, first responders are putting one of them to good use. THV11 got an inside look at the rare training opportunity.
Arkansas Task Force One responds to major emergencies and natural disasters. They were able to test out new rescue equipment and tactics in the empty, four-story, Arkansas Specialty Orthopedics building.
"It’s a little bit more real today, more real time,” said Chad Davis, task force member and Conway Firefighter. “We didn't know exactly what to expect when we got here so we had to adapt and overcome."
The training includes high-angle rope rescues, breaching, breaking and confined space rescue.
"We'll be doing some confined space rescue in the elevator shaft later on. It's just a very unique opportunity to have a building this size we can work in," said Andy Traffanstedt, Task Force Leader.
The task force includes 225 firefighters, medics and K-9 handlers from all across the state. The training brings together the task force groups in Central and Northwest Arkansas.
"How we train is how we operate in a real-world environment," Traffanstedt said.
Task Force One responds to major emergencies like building collapses, tornadoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes.
“We actually deployed to Texas end of 2017 for Hurricane Harvey to help with swift water response down there," Traffanstedt said.
The task force has been in place for about seven years but this is the first time they’ve ever had the opportunity to train in a high rise building.
“This is only four stories, but for us, it’s a high rise, so we do not get these opportunities very often," Traffanstedt said.
The last training like this was about a year ago when they trained in a two-story hotel in Conway.
The training continues on Wednesday and Thursday.