Urban Search & Rescue Participants

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This page is about Urban Search & Rescue Participants.

There are many participants in the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System. These participants can be grouped into three main categories.

  • FEMA - establishes policy and leads the coordination of the national system
  • Task Forces - there are 28 FEMA US&R Task Forces spread throughout the continental United States trained and equipped by FEMA to handle structural collapse.
  • Incident Support Teams - support the US&R Task Forces in accomplishing their mission through logistical, electronic and coordination expertise.

Task Forces

Members of the FEMA Urban Search Florida Task force 1 take a break to rehydrate during operations for Hurricane Katrina. Jocelyn Augustino/FEMA A Type I task force is made up of 70 multi-faceted, cross-trained personnel who serve in six major functional areas to include: search, rescue, medical, hazardous materials, logistics and planning. This task force also includes technical specialists such as physicians, structural engineers, and canine search teams. A task force is able to conduct physical search and heavy rescue operations in damaged or collapsed reinforced concrete buildings.  Each task force can be divided into two 35 member teams to provide 24 hour search and rescue operations. The task forces can also be configured as a Type III US&R task force for searching lighter construction usually encountered in weather related events such as hurricanes and tornados. Self-sufficient for the initial 72 hours, the task forces are equipped with convoy vehicles to support over-the-road deployments. 

What the task force can do:

  • Conduct physical search and rescue operations in damaged/collapsed structures.
  • Emergency medical care for entrapped survivors, task force personnel and search canines.
  • Reconnaissance to assess damage and needs and provide feedback to local, state and federal officials.
  • Assessment/shut off of utilities to houses and other buildings.
  • Survey and evaluate hazardous material threats.
  • Provide structural and hazard evaluations of buildings needed for immediate occupancy to support disaster relief operations.
  • Stabilizing damaged structures, including shoring and cribbing.
  • Hazardous Materials Equipment Push Packages (HEPP) for operations in a contaminated environment.
  • US&R operations in a water environment.

Additional Information

Incident Support Teams

In addition to the individual task forces, the System has three rostered Incident Support Teams (IST).  An IST provides a group of highly qualified specialists readily available for rapid assembly and deployment to a disaster area to manage and support deployed system task forces.  They also furnish federal, state, and local officials with technical assistance in acquiring, coordinating, and using US&R resources.

Last Updated: 
04/23/2015 - 14:00
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