Urban search and rescue (US&R) involves the location, rescue (extrication), and initial medical stabilization of victims trapped in confined spaces. Structural collapse is most often the cause of victims being trapped, but victims may also be trapped in transportation accidents, mines and collapsed trenches.
Urban search-and-rescue is considered a “multi-hazard” discipline, as it may be needed for a variety of emergencies or disasters, including earthquakes, hurricanes, typhoons, storms and tornadoes, floods, dam failures, technological accidents, terrorist activities, and hazardous materials releases. The events may be slow in developing, as in the case of hurricanes, or sudden, as in the case of earthquakes.
For every Urban Search & Rescue task force, there are 70 positions. But to be sure a full team can respond to an emergency, the task forces have at the ready more than 130 highly-trained members.
A task force is really a partnership between local fire departments, law enforcement agencies, federal and local governmental agencies and private companies.
A task force is totally self-sufficient for the first 72 hours of a deployment.
The equipment cache used to support a task force weighs nearly 80,000 pounds and is worth about $1.4 million. Add the task force members to the cache and you can completely fill a military C-141 transport or two C130’s.
Training requirements are intensive, to say the least. In addition to being an Emergency Medical Technician, each task force member must complete hundreds of hours of training. Specialties such as K-9 search, rescue and rigging carry their own training requirements.
What the task force can do:
- Conduct physical search-and-rescue in collapsed buildings
- Emergency medical care to trapped victims
- Search-and-rescue dogs
- Assessment and control of gas, electric service and hazardous materials
- Evaluation and stabilization of damaged structures