ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Abraham Lincoln's flying squad is the ship's first response to any emergency at sea.
"When the bells ring, you're asking these people to run into danger," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Marc Short, USS Abraham Lincoln's (CVN 72) fire marshal.
Short, a former Damage Controlman, is referring to the members of Abraham Lincoln's flying squad. The flying squad is the ship's first response to any emergency at sea.
"I screen them to a point where I know someone is going to be comfortable in that situation," said Short. "I have to make sure these people are willing to go in there without hesitation and possibly make a sacrifice to save the ship or other shipmates."
They have roughly 40 members that are qualified and trained to react accordingly to casualties such as fires, floods, toxic gas, structural damage and hazardous material (HAZMAT) spills.
"We call it the flying squad because some people run straight to the casualty and some run to the locker to get dressed out," said Senior Chief Damage Controlman Markiso Tisdale.
In the event of a fire, the flying squad members that have to head to lockers need to dress out as quickly as possible.
"Our hose team can get dressed out in 50 seconds, or less than two minutes in terms of getting to the locker," said Damage Controlman 3rd Class Britton Raven, a member of the flying squad.
Tisdale said they aim to have water on the fire within seven minutes. In the event of a flood, the response has to be much quicker.
The flying squad conducts frequent training to keep the members prepared for any emergency.
"A lot of times we go over more detailed casualties that are rare for us to experience," said Raven. "Rather than your basic HAZMAT spill or plain fire, we do main machinery space fires. A lot times we work with reactor when they are doing their drills, and we like to be there first."
The training is not just held to keep the members prepared, but also to build team chemistry.
"We have a really great bond," said Raven. "When we all put on the masks, we still know who each other are because you can tell by the way they act. Everyone works together, and everyone will look out for each other."
Raven explained that all the training allows them to help the rest of the crew become better prepared for casualties as well.
"The more you learn, the better you are," said Raven. "The more you can take away from these drills, the more you can teach about general quarters and general damage control.
Short said he is pleased with the work and determination of the flying squad.
"There is always room for improvement and nothing is ever perfect, but overall they do a great job," said Short. "I don't think they want to be heroes. I think they just take pride that they are the first ones to the scene of casualty."
Raven said that the flying squad has the crew's back and proudly stands the watch at all times.
"If you're sleeping and we have to respond, we got you," said Raven. "We'll watch out for everybody, and we appreciate what they do, so we're going keep responding and help you guys out. It's nice because there are a lot of people that depend on you. Outside you have the fighter jets that protect the ship, but inside, we protect everything, and that's a really cool feeling."
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