As terrorism concerns grow, Virginia Task Force 2 continues to prepare for the worst

Posted at 7:28 PM, Dec 06, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-06 19:28:17-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Virginia Task Force 2, one of FEMA's 28 urban search and rescue teams across the country, completed a two-day training exercise over the weekend.

The group of public safety personnel, doctors, canine handlers, and engineers from across Hampton Roads used specialized skills that are in demand whenever the team is mobilized to respond to a catastrophic event.

"We had to essentially assess a structure, stabilize it, and once we did that, we were able to go inside and see if there we any victims, which there were some simulated victims that we had to remove," says John Castillo, a rescue specialist with Virginia Task Force 2.

"You can say this is somewhat of a mass casualty incident because we are dealing with multiple victims," says Jon Rigolo, captain of the Virginia Beach Fire Department.

After the recent ISIS rampage in Paris, and mass shooting in San Bernardino this week, this training is especially relevant.

"You definitely think in the back of your head that could be something that we might be involved with," says Castillo.

Captain Rigolo says the task force, which is always packed and ready to go at anytime,  is on higher alert than usual.

"It seems like now we are a little more in tuned to what's going on worldwide."

The task force tells NewsChannel 3 that FEMA has prepared them more for terrorism type events, rather than just natural disasters, in the recent years.

Captain Rigolo says individual fire departments across Hampton Roads have also conducted active shooter training.

"Whenever those events pop off, you’ve got to be ready to leave," says Castillo.