Israeli, American Rescuers Running Drills Together

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- When disaster strikes, teamwork and training can mean the difference between life or death. That's why Israeli and American rescuers are learning to work together at home and abroad.

The recent demolition of a five-story building created an opportunity to train emergency workers for search and rescue.

"The level of training that you can do on a site like this is very unique," Lt. Col. Ira Deutsch, IDF Home Front Liaison in the United States, told CBN News. "It's not easy to get a building that you can work on. Usually units like this are used to working in a training base on what's called a rubble pile."

Maj. Gen. Martin Umbarger, adjutant general of Indiana, brought 50 Indiana National Guardsmen and five Marines to Jerusalem. They joined more than 200 Israeli home front soldiers for round-the-clock training exercises

"Here they are in the Holy Land, here with our ally, the great nation of Israel, working together in a simulated disaster and learning from one another together," Umbarger told CBN News.

Before the demolition, the Home Front Command placed large concrete pipes in the building to simulate a real life scenario.

"After the building is collapsed, we have a way to put a live person in the pile. So we're going to send a live person in and then he can bang and he can use his cell phone and the dogs can smell him, hopefully, so that actually it makes the training even more lifelike," Deutsch said.

This particular scenario, he said, is based on an earthquake destroying a college building with 100 students inside. It's very similar to the aftermath of a missile attack.

"If a building collapsed because of a missile, it collapses pretty much the same," Deutsch said. "The people who are trapped are going to be in the exact same situation they would be if the building collapsed for an earthquake."

Looking back at the 9/11 terror attacks, Umbarger said relationships like the one between the United States and Israel are key in time of trouble.

"You know what we experienced as Americans about 11 years ago, so I would not be surprised some day if they would need. And you know, we would be here," he said.

As deputy commander of the Israeli national search and rescue of the Home Front Command, IDF Col. Amir Golan's 20 years of experience includes a rescue mission to Nairobi, Kenya, when terrorists bombed the U.S. embassy in 1998.

Golan said countries as large as the United States still need help from outside.

"You still need international forces to come and support and give other hands, more hands to work because the first 24 hours are crucial," he said.

Golan said the secret to success is combining knowledge, skills, and teamwork because when that happens, all borders disappear.

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