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Maria, Jose, and Irma—all natural disasters that left death and devastation in their wake. FEMA, an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security, coordinates the response to disasters that occur within the United States and overwhelm local and state authorities.

FEMA’s members consist of volunteers from all walks of life, ranging from full time, on-call response/recovery to reservists and temporary local hires. FEMA’s emergency response is based on a small, decentralized teams trained in areas of National Disaster Medical System (NDMS), Urban Search and Rescue (USAR), Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team (DMORT), Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT), and Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS).

FEMA Training Event

On Tuesday, October 17, 2017, ADS, Inc.'s team had the unique opportunity to attend a FEMA USAR training event and provide equipment and on-site support in Virginia Beach. FEMA member’s ability to find and save victims from structural collapses during natural disasters is largely based on a training event such as this. Training stations are broken up into several sections, including: breaking and breaching, lifting and moving, and shoring.

During a shoring demonstration, ADS spoke with Rescue Squad Officer Glenn Burnett, who is also Captain of Virginia Beach Fire Department and member of VA Task Force 2.


"All we’re trying to do is capture what is standing and prevent it from collapsing further.”

-Glenn Burnett, Captain Virginia Beach Fire Department, VA Task Force 2

Captain Burnett explained USAR responders work to stabilize a structure from the outside in. Raker-beam construction is the first line of defense when it comes to preventing a building from falling. Lumber is the preferred source of material because of its availability, strength, and dimension.

Once the raker-beams are constructed and installed, first responders work room by room to stabilize walls, doors, and window frames with interior shores, temporary shores, and permanent shores. A Class II Permanent Shore, for example, can withstand over 24,000 pounds of weight.

firefighters pose

VBFD Captain Scott Prentice (left) and VBFD Captain Glenn Burnett (right) pose for a picture during training.

FEMA USAR trainees traveled from far regions, including:

  • Panama
  • Pennsylvania
  • Ohio
  • Washington

In the picture to the right, a FEMA member from Panama is seen running through a raker-beam scenario.

To learn more about FEMA's Breaking and Breaching, as well as Lifting and Moving, visit our blog on Things You’ll Learn in a FEMA Structural Collapse Technician Course.

firefighters training
ADS is a Proud Supporter of FEMA

As a proud supporter of FEMA initiatives and personnel, ADS was on-site providing Team Wendy EXFIL® Search and Rescue (SAR) helmets to FEMA trainees for test and evaluation during training.

The Team Wendy EXFIL® SAR Helmet meets three of the four FEMA requirements, including: EN12492:2012 for Mountaineering Helmets, EN1385:2012 for Whitewater Helmets, and AR/PD 10-02 Rev A for Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH).

This reduces the number of helmets each FEMA personnel are required to own and has additional tactical accessory and night vision mounting capabilities.


Weight: 1.59 lbs. (0.72kg)
Dimensions: 29cm x 25cm x 17cm
Colors: USCG Orange, White, Red, Black, Blue, and Yellow

A banner in front of a picture of trainees shows the FEMA requirements that the helmet meets.

Want to Learn More?

Contact us today and we'll be in touch with more information about our FEMA-approved products.

For immediate assistance, call us toll-free at 866.845.3012. Have a question or need a quote? Email us at or contact us and we’ll respond within 24 business hours.

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