On Thursday December 31 the Barnstable County Technical Rescue Team including Brewster firefighters Daniel Kimball and Joseph Cox assisted the Wellfleet Police in a search for a missing person on Lieutenant Island in Wellfleet. The male (Mr. William Fleming a retired Barnstable firefighter) had been reported missing on December 20. His vehicle was located by a passer-by in a remote area of the Island on December 28 and reported to the police. A ground search conducted by the Wellfleet Police and other law enforcement agencies using K-9 resources on December 29 and 30 proved unsuccessful.
In a joint request for assistance the Wellfleet Police and Fire Departments contacted the Technical Rescue Team whose members are trained in wide area search techniques to assist in an additional ground search of the Island on the morning of December 31. 30 members of both the technical rescue and dive team components of the rescue group mobilized in Wellfleet at 0600 hours and were briefed by Task Force Leaders and Team Managers as to the operational search plan for the day which included the use of drones supplied by police and private owners as a method to examine areas that team members would be unable to access due to the islands soft and marsh like terrain. A significant benefit to the operation was that approximately 12 members of the rescue team recently participated in a formalized Wide Area Search Training Program that provided them with the tools and resources necessary to develop and implement an effective and efficient search operation that included the use of mobile GPS equipment.
To ensure proper command and control of the incident and coordination of resources Police and Fire commanders established a unified command post on the Island using a command and rehabilitation vehicle supplied by the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services. A plan dividing the search area into five sectors was developed and technical rescue team members were assigned to each. After several hours of intensive searching of the entire island a drone located the missing person’s body in a marsh area approximately ¼ mile from the main access road to the island. State Police were requested to the scene and after documentation of the location members of the Barnstable Fire Department were deployed to remove the body from the marsh.
This response of the Technical Rescue Team highlights the type of resources and services the unit is able to offer local police and fire departments. The team is trained to respond to and operate at building collapses, trench rescues, confined space rescues, high angle rope rescues, water rescues and recoveries, and wide area searches such as the incident identified above. The regional team is comprised of approximately 80 highly trained firefighters from a number of participating Cape Cod fire departments.