Rich Pohl is a long-time member of Roco’s specialized, on-site rescue services team at a large computer manufacturing facility near Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Roco team is responsible for confined space program management at the plant site along with various other safety services such as fall protection, rope access and CPR training. While the team wears many hats, their primary focus is confined space rescue. At this one particular location, the Roco team has been onsite for more than 20 years. According to Rich, “The Roco Team is proud to have become a part of a company culture that places a heavy focus on employee safety and preventing incidents from ever occurring.”
As a CSRT Crew Chief for the NM team, Rich is responsible for assisting with the management of the confined space program along with team logistics. In addition to his many day-to-day assignments (confined space rescue standby operations, etc.), he also keeps up with the team’s training records and equipment. Because the team also covers additional Roco standby rescue services in the southwest region, Rich and his coworkers must be flexible in their work environments. For example, one day, he could be working at a computer manufacturing facility and the next at a large Department of Energy secure site.
Rich started his part-time career with Roco in 2000 when he came onboard as a NM CSRT crew member. It was only two years later that he became a CSRT Crew Chief and then a Chief Rescue Instructor in 2005. Rich joined Roco on a full-time basis in 2006 following a lengthy “3-day” retirement from the Albuquerque Fire Department.
In total, Rich spent 22 years with the Albuquerque Fire Department with 14 years at the technical rescue station. He also was a rescue squad officer on FEMA’s New Mexico Task Force 1, which deployed to numerous national emergencies. As part of the Task Force, Rich was deployed to the Pentagon after the September 11th attacks and later to Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita and the Space Shuttle Columbia crash recovery.
Helping others and saving lives continues to be a big part of Rich’s job. He adds that his role in Roco’s mission is to provide a safe and injury-free work environment so that everyone goes home safely at the end of each day. That’s the overall goal.
Rich also enjoys teaching technical rescue skills to Roco students – in fact, he says that is one of the most rewarding parts of his job. He adds, “Training new students, especially in or from foreign countries, and watching them start with absolutely no training and progress into great rescuers and then become a part of the rescue family is very rewarding for me.” Over the years, Rich has traveled routinely to the Middle East to work with emergency responders from some of the largest refineries in the world.
Away from work, Rich loves to spend time with his grandsons – also, fishing and hunting. He happens to be a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan and a New Mexico Lobos basketball fan. He lives in Albuquerque with his wife, Kim, who is a manager at Sandia National Labs. They have two grown daughters and three wonderful grandsons, ages 11, 9 and 2, who keep Rich very busy and happy!