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CREST HAVEN - A day-long full exercise will be conducted for the Cape May County Regional Urban Search Team (RUST) Dec. 11, at 7 a.m.


According to a release, the exercise will be staged at the Cape May County Public Safety Training Center under the auspices of the county Department of Emergency Management.


“This full exercise will implement the training of the talented men and women who give of their time to help search for individuals who are the victims of a large-scale emergency event,” stated Cape May County Freeholder Director Gerald M. Thornton. “This will be a real-life simulation of a severe storm event that resulted in a building collapse with victims trapped inside. This exercise will help further train these individuals who will be called on in the event of a major event in our area.”


The goal of the RUST exercise will be to perform a detailed assessment of all the assets available in southern New Jersey. Various functions will be exercised and evaluated, including communications, activation, response, inter-operability, hazard mitigation, and operations.


This drill will include many assets and organizations in Cape May and other neighboring counties. During this exercise, a Unified Command System will be established, with resources and personnel mobilized and demobilized during the response to the incident. 


Residents should not be alarmed on this date when they see emergency response vehicles responding to the staged location of this exercise.


“There are select individuals who have participated in extensive training for RUST-related incidents and activities in this County and they will glean valuable simulated experience through this large-scale drill,” stated county Emergency Management Director Martin Pagliughi. “We are proud to have firefighters representing several County units who have volunteered to be part of this RUST team. This exercise will certainly help these individuals save lives during a genuine emergency in the future.”


The RUST team is trained to respond to emergent conditions including building collapse, surface ice rescue, open water rescue, high angle rope rescue, confined space, and machinery entrapment. 


The local RUST unit was originally formed in 2010 and was rebuilt five years later with Memorandums of Understanding with both the Ocean City and Wildwood City fire departments, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard Fire Department.


 These agreements allow for the immediate response of equipment and personnel. 


“The best evaluation of our readiness and training is an actual exercise that puts this training to the test,”

stated Wildwood Fire Chief Daniel Spiegel, who also serves as the team leader for RUST. “We are excited about this opportunity to learn in which areas improvement may be necessary.”


Cape May County’s RUST falls under the auspices of the freeholders, county Office of Emergency Management, county Fire Marshal’s Office, and the county Fire Chiefs Association.


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