Emergency preparedness spans a wide range of scenarios. Explosions, structural collapses, the release of hazardous materials and mass casualty events are all situations that emergency responders must train for to ensure the safety of the community and team members. It's easy to overlook the more mundane emergencies that can occur, like a structural collapse. However, some agencies are working proactively to ensure first responders know how to appropriately handle this situation.

The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service launched a new US&R Rescue Specialist Certificate program in June that aims to provide high-level training about structural collapse search and rescue operations to public safety workers, reported Emergency Management Magazine. Major disasters like 9/11 have demonstrated why training for structural collapses and related rescue efforts are necessary. 

"Being an emergency responder, the main purpose is to save people; to save lives," said Troy Osgood, a technical rescue instructor for the Boston Fire Department who completed the certificate program, according to the news source. "If you know there are people trapped in a building and the building's falling down, and you really can't do your job, it kind of defeats the purpose of actually having your job." 

Structural collapse and search and rescue training is unique because of all the variables that must be accounted for. As a result, it is crucial that leaders directing the men and women into an unstable structure know who is properly trained to handle such a situation. Regular training exercises and software providing quick access to accurate responder skills information are crucial elements to ensure everyone's safety. During time-sensitive situations like a structural collapse, technology and training will make the rescue faster and safer.  

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