31st RQS, 320th STS undergo confined space training Published Oct. 7, 2008 By Maj. John Hutcheson 18th Wing Public Affairs KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Fifteen pararescuemen from the 31st Rescue Squadron and 320th Special Tactics Squadron recently took part in training to help them execute rescue missions in confined spaces and collapsed structures. According to the 31st Rescue Squadron commander, Maj Jason Pifer, the training came about as a result of operational lessons learned from previous rescue operations, the primary example being the June 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia. "PJs found that it is critical they have the foundation skills necessary to successfully and safely enter a facility or structure, regardless of how small the space is, to execute their mission," said Maj Pifer. The course consisted of classroom instruction as well as hands-on training around the base. The PJs learned how to mark entry and exit sites, shore up doorways and rooms and breach walls. They also received instruction on how to lift heavy objects with the tools and kit they deploy with as well as to simulate these events in a tactical environment. In addition, the confined space training prepared the PJs with the necessary skills and tools to extricate wounded or trapped personnel, including patient packaging and high angle litter evacuation techniques. Finally, the PJs learned how to use the tactical air monitoring sensors built into their deployment kits. These sensors detect oxygen levels and hazardous gases and are designed for the tactical environment. "This may not seem like typical pararescue stuff, but these guys need to be ready for anything," said Maj. Pifer. "They're in the business of saving lives and this course is one more tool in the toolkit to help them do that."