Since 1989, Dennis O’Connell has been a technical rescue consultant and professional instructor for Roco. In 2002, he joined the company full-time and is now the Director of Training and a Chief Instructor.
As Director of Training, O’Connell heads up Roco’s technical rescue programs and is responsible for curriculum development, instructor training and much more. As a Chief Instructor, he teaches Confined Space, High Angle, Trench, Structural Collapse, and Instructor Development courses. “Training-the-trainer” is one of the many skills O’Connell cultivated during his 20-year tenure with the New York Police Department (NYPD).
Sgt. O’Connell received 14 commendations and citations as a career officer and was selected to serve on the NYPD Emergency Services Unit (ESU) for 17 years. Besides responding to over 100,000 assignments each year, this elite group served as a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit for America’s iconic city–responding to high-risk situations and providing rescue operations for transportation accidents, building collapses, hazardous materials incidents, water rescue, confined space and high-angle incidents, helicopter operations (high-rise Medevac), and disorder control.
As a member of ESU, he was extensively involved in rescue and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center from Day One. As a hand-selected member of FEMA’s New York Task Force #1, Sgt. O’Connell responded to major disasters in Oklahoma City, Atlanta, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. With his broad teaching experience and expertise in real-world rescue, O’Connell is a man others want to learn from.
His inspiration for becoming a rescue professional?
As a young man, O’Connell was involved in an automobile crash with fatal injuries to one of his best friends. At that moment, he vowed to learn the proper techniques of lifesaving, rescue, and emergency response. Mission accomplished.
His best advice for the novice?
Know your equipment like the back of your hand… literally. You have to protect yourself before you can help others.
What does he do for fun?
Almost anything that presents a challenge! Here we see him sporting ‘Cajun Reeboks’ for a little recreational trip down the bayou. Only the best equipment for the job will do for Dennis!