Local emergency team members at Olympics
by Andrew Walgamott, special to the Woodinville Weekly
Firefighters Ron Suggs and Tad Wineman of the Woodinville Fire Life and Safety District are going to Atlanta for the Olympics.
As members of the Puget Sound Urban Search and Rescue Task Force (USR) and the Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT), their expertise in rescue and medical training was needed by the federal government in case of terrorist disruption or natural disaster near Atlanta during the summer Olympic Games.
"It's a great opportunity to get together with the [task force] and a great opportunity for training," said Suggs, a founding member of USR and an 11-year veteran of the fire department.
Suggs, the father of one, will be stationed at Cobb County Fairgrounds near Atlanta from Aug. 2-9 where he will "sit and wait and hope nothing happens."
His crew and others from around the U.S. will be on call 24 hours a day for one week stints in case of emergency. They will not be allowed off site to see any of the games.
"Everyone would like to see the events," Suggs said. "But we've got a job to do and that's why we're going."
USR specializes in heavy rescue operations, such as those performed at Oklahoma City and Northridge, extricating survivors from destruction and getting them to DMAT.
Lt. Tad Wineman, a local firefigher for eight years, is with a DMAT team stationed outside Dobbins Air Force Base near Atlanta. He is housed with 30 similar teams from across America under "incredibly tight security" provided by the U.S. Air Force, Army, FBI, and DEA.
Wineman's unit functions like a "MASH unit," treating the wounded, said his battalion chief and deployment coordinator, Dominic Marzano. Wineman has been at Dobbins AFB since July 13 and will stay seven to 10 days.
Occupying the task force will be "all-day training," Marzano said: Physical training in the morning, Federal Emergency Management Agency instruction in the afternoon, and optional evening classes.
Marzano noted that this was a wonderful chance to "marshal trained, technically capable resources to answer national disasters." He added that his men would bring back "great learning, great experience, and great knowledge, and make it all available to the community."