Tech Zone

Training Simulator Offers Hundreds of Training Scenarios for First Responders

Personal Protection Equipment Specialists, Inc.’s (PPES) GUARDIAN Safety and Survival Training Simulator provides first responders with multiple real-life training scenarios. Designed and developed by Tom Quinn, a responder to the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on 9/11. The experience of working with the dedicated men and women working through the rubble of Ground Zero moved Quinn to work toward finding a safe method of preparing first responders to meet the challenges and hazards these types of incidents present.

He came up with the GUARDIAN mobile training simulator that is able to recreate more than 200 catastrophic scenarios first responders will likely encounter. Trainees could train for natural and manmade disasters in a controlled environment. They could prepare for earthquakes, explosions, building collapses, and fires. The simulated evolutions provide the opportunities for trainees to crawl through two levels of narrow spaces of a “pancake” collapsed building to rescue a trapped victim; stabilize collapsed environments; shore up flooring; contain gas leaks; and to access, lift, and extricate victims from life-threatening environments.

The simulator can be reconfigured and customized to reflect virtually every possible rescue scenario. For example, air pistons can simulate after-shocks and structural settling. Additional modules can allow for training in a window-rescue situation, cement-wall breaching, or a sewer line escape.

These evolutions are conducted in an environment with limited visibility, smoke, and debris and while responders are wearing pounds of protective gear and bulky breathing apparatus. Within this atmosphere, they learn the crucial value of teamwork and how to devise strategies under conditions that have been referred to as being “as real as it gets.”


Training scenarios from 9/11-type operations. (Photos courtesy of Personal Protection Equipment Specialists, Inc.)

GUARDIAN is available in a 24- or 30-foot trailer, which is divided into two floors. It can easily be transported by standard pickup truck or van. It is designed to meet the needs of Federal Emergency Management Agency Urban Search & Rescue operations, terrorist task forces, federal law enforcement, emergency medical service providers, and local volunteer firefighters.

It continues to evolve as first responders ask for training scenarios that would be helpful for their departments. One example is the recently added railroad car dome simulator. Responders learn which valve to turn or which switch to throw in a variety of scenarios involving toxic chemicals and pressurized coolant.

The GUARDIAN made its fire service debut in September at the New Jersey State Firemen’s Convention in Wildwood and at the Pennsylvania State Fire Convention, Lake Harmony, Pennsylvania.

Two of the simulated scenes at the Montgomery County Fire Academy in Pennsylvania.

More than 12,000 first responders have been trained on the GUADIAN, including members of the Washington Township (NJ) Fire Department. In late August, the Montgomery County Fire Academy in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, added the 30-foot model of the GUARDIAN to its disaster training program. The Academy chose among its training scenarios window rescue, sewer line escape, breaching a cement wall, and collapse of a standard three-story building in which the third story pancaked onto the second story, and an earthquake and its aftershocks. The Academy’s package also includes a remote command center, which allows for video monitoring and recording of trainees’ performances for review and evaluation.

Founded in 1996, PPES also provides rescue and EMS equipment, service, training, and certification. Additional information is available on the PPES Web site (www.PPES.US) or by contacting Jay Gundel & Associates at (302) 658-1674.

If you have a relatively new technology you would like to have considered for this column, please contact [email protected].