<span class="italic">Columbia</span> Shuttle Recovery Operation Pulls Search Crews Nationwide

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Release date: 
March 26, 2003
Release Number: 
3171-57

Lufkin, TX -- To date, more than 10,000 search crew members and support personnel from across the nation and Puerto Rico have been involved in the recovery of material from the Columbia Space Shuttle. Montana tops the list--more than a thousand people from that state have searched East Texas and Western Louisiana for debris which may provide clues to the cause of the Shuttle accident.

These figures, provided by the Texas Interagency Coordination Center (TICC), show that other states providing large numbers of personnel include New Mexico with 893; Arkansas and Washington, both with 830; Texas, 773; North Carolina, 702; California, 671; Idaho, 617; Arizona, 439; Utah, 418; South Dakota, 408; Kentucky, 272; Nevada, 262; Washington, 259; Oklahoma, 244; and, Alaska, 208. The remaining states and the District of Columbia have less than 200, with several of them having only one or two people participating. Eighty people from Puerto Rico have also joined in the search. Crews usually stay for 14 to 21 days and then rotate out, to prevent exhaustion and illness. The TICC numbers can change on a daily basis.

Most of the search crew teams are highly trained, physically fit firefighters, who are comfortable in the outdoors and deep woods. According to Mark Stanford, Texas Forest Service (TFS), "They picked up the protocol of the search quickly and have responded in a great way to the needs of NASA. The morale of the searchers is high. It is an honor for us to be part of the efforts of recovery and to help NASA get the Shuttle flying again."

Most of the search and support personnel are part of wildland firefighting organizations established by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and state forestry agencies. While established to fight forest and brush fires, the resources have been mobilized for other disasters, such as floods, and now for the Columbia recovery efforts. The nationwide, interagency structure allows emergency personnel to be in place within 24 hours. A full encampment-with 1,000 to 2,000 personnel can be fully functional within 48 hours, complete with food service, showers, medical and sanitation facilities.

The TICC, located in Lufkin, is made up of the TFS, the USFS, and the USFWS, and is coordinating the personnel and support resources for the Columbia search operations.

Number of search crew members and support personnel by state:

Alaska - 208
Alabama - 38
Arkansas - 830
Arizona - 439
California - 671
Colorado - 130
DC - 1
Florida - 164
Georgia - 136
Idaho - 617
Illinois - 20
Indiana - 2
Kentucky - 272
Louisiana - 101
Maryland - 2
Maine - 2
Michigan - 28
Minnesota - 64
Mississippi - 57
Missouri - 89
Montana - 1,024
North Carolina - 702
North Dakota - 121
Nebraska - 31
New Hampshire - 24
New Mexico - 893
Nevada - 262
New York - 2
Ohio - 5
Oklahoma - 244
Oregon - 259
Pennsylvania - 2
Puerto Rico - 80
South Carolina - 42
South Dakota - 408
Tennessee - 184
Texas - 773
Utah - 418
Virginia - 98
Washington - 830
Wisconsin - 2
West Virginia - 5
Wyoming - 146

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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