Five members of the Warsaw-Wayne Township Fire Territory were among approximately 35 firefighters who responded Sunday afternoon when a private jet crashed into three South Bend homes.
Aaron Bolinger is a battalion chief with WWTFT. He is also a member of the Indiana Technical Rescue Team which was called to help with search and recovery efforts during the disaster.
Also on the ITR team from Warsaw who responded Sunday are Nate Iden, Brian Zehring, Brent Fifer and Justin Miller.
This morning, Bolinger told StaceyPageOnline.com that the Warsaw members arrived in South Bend at about 6 p.m. Sunday and were on scene for about five hours.
Initially they helped with search efforts in two of the homes that were struck by the jet when it crashed. The men then went to work helping to shore up the house that took the brunt of the impact from the jet.
Members of the ITR Team are specially trained in areas such as trench rescue, rope rescue and confined area rescue.
“Most fire departments aren’t trained for a trench collapse rescue or things like that. It’s 300 more hours of specialized training that’s required to be part of the team,” Bolinger said. “We have drills every three months and have local training once a month.”
In all, Warsaw has 11 firefighters who are part of the District 2 Indiana Technical Rescue Team. Bolinger is the team leader for the local department and said that when an emergency situation occurs, he is first alerted by text that ITR Team members are needed. He then puts the word out to see who can respond.
“It’s called a scramble to see who is available. The team leaders get paged first, then the county dispatch is contacted,” he explained. “Once we know how many we have, we contact whichever department called for the team and let them know how many we have and what we are bringing.”
So far this year, Bolinger said the team has been called twice, the latest involving Sunday’s plane crash. “We’re called two or three times a year,” he added, noting that in 2012 the team was called for a trench rescue in Elkhart County and a cell phone tower rescue here in Kosciusko County.
The ITR Team is now comprised of about 120 members from six fire departments in what is known as District 2. Counties included in District 2 are Kosciusko, Marshall, Elkhart, Fulton, Pulaski and St. Joe, but Niles, Mich., is also involved.