Goodfellow’s SAM Squad compete in World Challenge, Vegas

Staff Sgt. Jessica Packard puts on her full bunker gear, including an air-breathing apparatus, before she competes in the individual relay event Nov. 19, 2009, at the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge in Las Vegas. Sergeant Packard took 3rd place overall in the female individual competition.  She is stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios)

Staff Sgt. Jessica Packard puts on her full bunker gear, including an air-breathing apparatus, before she competes in the individual relay event Nov. 19, 2009, at the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge in Las Vegas. Sergeant Packard took 3rd place overall in the female individual competition. She is stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios)

Staff Sgt. Jessica Packard puts on her oxygen mask as she gets ready to compete in the individual relay event Nov. 19, 2009, at the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge in Las Vegas. Sergeant Packard took 3rd place overall in the female individual competition. She is stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios)

Staff Sgt. Jessica Packard puts on her oxygen mask as she gets ready to compete in the individual relay event Nov. 19, 2009, at the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge in Las Vegas. Sergeant Packard took 3rd place overall in the female individual competition. She is stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios)

GOODFELLOW AFB, Texas -- Goodfellow's SAM Squad competed in the World Challenge that took place in Las Vegas, Nev., Nov. 16-20. It was the last fire fighter combat challenge of the nine month season. They competed against teams from all over the world, such as New Zealand, Berlin, Canada, Russia, Mexico and England.

There were roughly 1,000 firefighters at the week-long event. Out of hundreds, only 17 teams made the finals. In total, 130 competitors participated. Goodfellow had five participants in the competition, William Gates, 312th Training Squadron, Sgt. William Alexander, Marine Corps Detachment, Staff Sgt. Christopher Pickett, MCD, Sgt. Talan Wyenandt, MCD, Staff Sgt. Jessica Packard, 312 TRS.

The challenge consisted of an obstacle course set up to replicate the physical demands of fighting an actual fire. They were dressed in "full bunker gear" and a self-contained breathing apparatus, a device worn by rescue workers, firefighters and others, to provide breathable air in a hostile environment. The competitors then performed a linked series of five tasks which included climbing the five story tower, hoisting people, chopping any objects in the way, dragging hoses and rescuing a life sized, 175 pound "victim."

"It is a race against us, our opponents and the nemesis, the clock," Gates said. "We finished 13th overall, beating more than 200 other teams. Staff Sgt. Jessica Packard took top honors for the team placing 3rd overall in the female division. This was her second competition ever," he added.

In the relay division the SAM Squad finished fourth. The relays normally have five team members. We have competed all year with only four team members, Gates commented.

"Besides loyalty to the Fire Academy, the team competes to challenge and better ourselves as professional firefighters, said Gates. "We all enjoy the level of competition and kinships that we have made throughout the year."